Watch: Officers' helicopter rescue of couple stranded during monsoon

The couple pulled off the road to rest when heavy rain caused their vehicle to be overcome by rushing floodwater


By Sabrina Schnur
Las Vegas Review-Journal

LAS VEGAS — The Metropolitan Police Department search and rescue unit saved two people stranded in rushing waters early Wednesday morning.

A man and woman called police at 1:14 a.m. from the shoulder of State Route 169, near Moapa, reporting rushing waters up to their waist while sitting in their van.

Sgt. Chris LeBlanc, of the search team, said he and three other officers jumped into an Airbus H135 helicopter and flew through the rain, finding the van around 3 a.m. The vehicle had started to move through the rushing waters, and the couple had disabilities LeBlanc worried would prevent them from exiting safely.

“We haven’t really seen monsoons here like we have this year,” LeBlanc said. “The past five or six years, you haven’t seen as many of these kinds of rescues where those flood waters get to that extent.”

A rescue officer was hoisted down from the helicopter and retrieved the woman from the roof and the man from the driver’s side window, LeBlanc said. Both were delivered to the fire department, which was waiting on nearby dry land, without injuries.

In a Facebook post from the department, Metro said the older couple had pulled off the road to get some rest when the rains started. A video showed the woman being lifted up by the helicopter, which was navigating low-hanging power lines and windy conditions.

"This is what we do, it’s no different than helping somebody out there on patrol,” LeBlanc said of the rescue. “We all do things for certain reasons. We all get that job satisfaction. That’s why we do what it is that we do."

Metro search and rescue conducts between 110 and 130 rescues annually, LeBlanc said. He did not believe the pair had been trying to drive through the floodwaters.

“Sometimes good people get stuck in bad situations, and it’s not necessarily their fault,” LeBlanc said.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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