Video Captures Daring Rescue of Elderly Man Trapped in Flooding Car

Connected to the chopper by a hoist, Rios says he broke out the back window of the car and saw the man still sitting in the driver's seat.

A daring swift water rescue in San Bernardino County over the weekend was captured on video, as a helicopter assisted in rescuing an elderly man trapped inside a car with 40 mph winds and threatening power lines nearby.

The crew members say the video from Saturday shows how quickly the weather can change and how dangerous it can be for drivers.

The video shows a helicopter hovering as a rescuer is lowered down to an 85-year-old man trapped in a car that was washed away by fast moving water in Yucca Valley.

Wearing night vision goggles, the crew battled high winds, hard rain and extreme weather, along with the threat of power lines in close proximity.

"There were power lines very close to where we needed to operate that was a huge concern for all of us," Cpl. Jon Anderson of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said.

Anderson says they came up with a plan to carefully lower a diver close enough so he could just step off the helicopter and skid right onto the car, which is a dangerous maneuver considering the extreme weather.

"You don't have time to think about it, you have to act," Detective Mark Rios of the SBSD says.


Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.

California Winter Storms Boost Water Allocations for Cities

Recent Storms Created Thousands of Potholes on LA Streets. What If They Damage Your Car?

Connected to the chopper by a hoist, Rios says he broke out the back window of the car and saw the elderly man still sitting in the driver's seat. 

Rios recounts, "His hands were on the steering wheel, and he was sitting in the water all the way up to his chest for about an hour and it was pretty cold."

Rios pulled the victim to the back of the car and put this rescue harness around his body before the man could be hoisted up safely.

"Everything I'm seeing with the hoist, I'm constantly relaying to the pilot what's going on," Deputy Cody Korkotsakis of the SBSD says.

Korkotsakis adds context to the rescue, "As the wind and rain changes, the helicopter is constantly getting beat up by the winds and conditions."

Braving the weather conditions, the crew members were able to get the victim to safety using dangerous tactics and risking their own lives. But they have a message for drivers who come across flooded roadways and think it might be safe to cross.

"Don't do it," Rios says. "Turn around. It's not worth it."

Contact Us