TFD responds to swift water incident involving car swept downstream

Tucson Fire units responded to a swift water call near the intersection of S. Elizabeth Drive and W. Lincoln Street after an SUV was swept downstream and flipped over with two occupants still inside.  Multiple calls were made to 9-1-1 reporting the vehicle being washed away, with some reports stating that two adults and two kids were swept away.  A swift water response was immediately dispatched.  The car entered a flooded wash on S.16th Avenue when it was swept downstream.  The vehicle flipped over and came to a rest near S. Elizabeth Drive..  TFD units arrived on scene and immediately set up for swift water rescue operations, including having several units respond further down the wash to possibly effect a rescue downstream. The two occupants, a 28 year-old male and 24 year-old female were still in the vehicle as it began filling with water.  They were able to escape from the vehicle only to be swept further downstream, including under a bridge that covered Elizabeth drive and also under I-19.  The two were able to get to the side of the wash and pull themselves out of the water on the west side of I-19 near S. Lamar Avenue.  Tucson Fire Paramedics found the two patients, and confirmed that they were indeed the two swept downstream and that they were the only two in the vehicle.  The two patients were medically assessed on scene but refused transport to the hospital for precautionary reasons, instead stating they would follow up on their own with family.

Safety Message: During the monsoon season, washes can rise very quickly. Here are some tips for safety:

  • Most flash flood deaths occur in vehicles
  • Moving water 1-2 feet deep will carry away most vehicles and can knock a person off their feet
  • Keep children away from creeks and washes when heavy rain is in the area
  • Be especially careful at night when water depth and road conditions are harder to see