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Swift water rescue team saves officer, man from rising flood waters

officer hendrik kruger
Posted at 10:56 AM, Mar 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 10:56:28-04

SOUTH NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A swift water rescue team helped save a police officer and a good Samaritan who got caught in rising creek waters in Nashville.

Late Saturday night, the officer's car was swept away by the rising water as he was headed home. When a man on the street saw the car get pulled into the creek, he ran out to help.

Then the man became stuck when the water knocked him down and carried him away from land.

After shouting for help, people in the neighborhood heard their voices and flagged down a swift water rescue team, including Pete Griffin.

"We could hear the screams and they were probably about 100 yards away," said Pete Griffin. "We couldn't see anybody and we could barely hear the screams over the rain."

The trained volunteer rescue diver and swift water technician got in the boat he was towing with Rob Boudreau and headed in the direction of the voices.

"All we knew at that point is there was two people in the woods somewhere there, they were screaming and stuck in a tree and needed help and they couldn't hold on much longer and we tried to move as quickly as we could," Griffin said.

Navigating the high water was challenging.

For the first time ever, the creek had risen to 15 feet. It floods at nine feet.

"It's pitch black, it's raining. You can barely see anything and all of this debris is going down. Literally, we saw an SUV going through the water and float by that was unoccupied," Griffin said.

The boat that Griffin, Boudreau and a third man were in finally reached one of the trapped men.

"He was about waist level in the water and I talked to him and I said, 'OK, are you hurt?' He said 'no, I'm fine.' I said, 'where is the other person?' And at that point, he said, 'the officer is over there.' And we're like the officer? And he said, 'yeah there's a police officer over there.' At that point we had no idea there was a police officer in the water," Griffin said.

The crew went to Officer Hendrik Kruger next.

"As we started to float near where he was, Rob slowed down the boat a bit and I just reached over and said to the police officer 'just grab my arm as best you can,' and grabbed him by the arm and just yanked him up on to the boat," Griffin said.

Eventually, both men were rescued and safe in the boat.

"There is a good chance I wouldn't be here if they hadn't gotten there when they did," Joel Cummings said.

Joel Cummings was the man in the water with the police officer. He held on to a tree for nearly 90 minutes before the rescuers got to them.

"It means a lot to see him and to be able to say thank you," Cummings said.

Griffin and Cummings reunited on Monday.

According to MNPD, Officer Kruger is recovering from injuries he sustained in the floodwaters.

This story originally reported by Hannah McDonald on NewsChannel5.com.