After rain in Kingman stopped a drilling crew from their work drilling a well, the four men found and rescued a man and a woman who were stranded in a flood. Brown Drilling
The fickle Arizona weather was not suitable for working outside that day.
The airport in Kingman, a small city about 200 miles northwest of Phoenix, reported a downpour of 1.31 inches of rain Tuesday. The city also tied its record low maximum temperature for that date, at 79 degrees.
A group of men who work for a drilling company decided to end the workday early due to the rain, instead heading to get fuel and coffee at a gas station east of Kingman.
Soon after picking up coffees they learned that some people were stranded in a nearby wash, waiting to be rescued as a flood engulfed the area.
Brown Drilling co-owner Jon Kaufman and three men from his team started driving to find the people. One of them, Bill Lott, began recording the incident on his phone.
Video shows the men pulling up near Stephan and Blake Ranch roads, where they see that two people are standing on the roof of a Ford Bronco that’s fully submerged in brown floodwater.
A big truck and bravery
In the video, the road ahead of the men is flooded, but they assure each other they can drive into it thanks to the International 4800 they’re in, a heavy-duty commercial truck.
“I didn’t want us to become someone who also needed rescue,” Kaufman told the Kingman Daily Miner. “But we needed to help them right then.”
Rafe Beacom and Derek Penrod stepped onto the truck’s front bumper before Kaufman drove it closer to the man and woman, who are standing in water so high, the Bronco is not visible.
Kaufman inched the truck up to just a few feet away from them, cautious about what appeared to be a drop-off next to the Bronco. If he drove too close, he could lose his truck, too.
The man on top of the Bronco was holding a ladder and, after a few minutes, was able to reach it to Beacom and Penrod. The woman crawled across the ladder to safety first, followed by the man.
“The only thing I could think about was getting them off that truck,” Penrod told the Kingman Daily Miner.
“Both of our minds were figuring out how to get (the couple) onto our truck and do it quickly,” Beacom told the paper. “It was always in our minds, but we made it work.”
The perfect people for the job
Brown Drilling co-owner Amanda Kaufman told The Republic the men were too busy working to talk about the incident Monday, but that they are glad it is getting attention.
“We talk about ‘turn around, don’t drown’ all the time. The video is a great piece to show the dangers of ignoring the warnings,” she said.
“Swift-water rescues can be very dangerous. They are not in it for the attention or the thrill seeking. They saw some people in a very dangerous situation and the guys were able to help.”
She said her crew is “very well experienced in the rural and off-road areas of the county” and that “the truck they were in that day was probably the best piece of equipment in the area” for the rescue.
The men work long shifts in loud environments and have learned to communicate through hand gestures and body language, a skill Amanda said she believes was a factor in the rescue.
“The guys are proud that they were in the right place at the right time and it ended on a positive note.”
An example of “Turn Around Don’t Drown”
Mohave County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Trish Carter said she is unsure of who initially called for help, but that a Mohave County Search and Rescue member made it near the scene and was waiting for an Arizona Department of Public Safety Ranger helicopter to pick them up. DPS canceled the response after the drilling crew rescued the pair.
The Republic could not confirm the identities of the people who were rescued.
Just 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult, according to the National Weather Service’s “Turn Around Don’t Drown” campaign.
A foot of water can carry away a small car, and 2 feet of rushing water can move most vehicles.
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