Man rescued from stranded truck in high water

Staff reporter

Marion County residents have seen a lot of rain so far this spring.

This past Thursday night and early Friday morning were no exception when a storm came through, dumping three to four inches of rain in some parts of the county.

A torrential downpour on already saturated ground and full creeks was the setting for a water rescue early Friday morning.

Around 6 a.m., Clifford J. Area, 49, 1660 160th, Marion, was driving a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado pickup through high water over a bridge on 160th Road near Pawnee which is located near his residence.

According to Marion County Sheriff Lee Becker, apparently the truck stalled and began filling with water from nearby Spring Branch Creek, causing the driver to move to the roof of the vehicle.

Help was summoned including Neil Whitaker, a swift water rescuer and a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park ranger at Marion Reservoir, and a helicopter from Kansas Highway Patrol.

Becker said the driver ended up being rescued by Marion County Road and Bridge employee James Olsen, who operates the motor grader in that section of the county. Olsen was able to drive the motor grader into the water and reach the stranded driver, taking him to safety.

"It was a better choice to have the maintainer make the rescue than the helicopter because of electrical lines," Becker said.

Area was not injured.

Just as quickly as the water rose, the water subsided, and the vehicle was removed from the road within a couple of hours of the incident.

Drivers are reminded to take care when entering high water and the best advice is to not drive through any significant amount of water that's on the roadway, Becker said.