Off-Duty TN Firefighters Rescue Motorist Stranded in River

March 29, 2021
Two off-duty firefighters—one from the Franklin Fire Department and another from Columbia Fire Rescue—helped Maury County crews pull the man to safety.

Tennessee firefighters—including two from different departments who were off duty—rescued a man who was stranded on top of his vehicle after it plunged into a river Sunday morning.

Franklin Fire Capt. Michael Henderson, who was off duty at the time, was in the Williamsport area of Maury County when he was alerted to a vehicle in Duck River, according to the Maury County Fire Department. When he reached the scene, Henderson could barely make out the individual in the middle of the river.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Off duty firefighters with the Franklin FD and Columbia Fire Rescue along with a Maury County...

Posted by Maury County Fire Department on Sunday, March 28, 2021

Not long after the fire captain arrived, a civilian jon boat pulled by its owner, Maury County firefighter Jimmy Marsh, and Columbia firefighter Jason Delk, who had been off duty, arrived at the scene. They waited for more life jackets before Delk and Henderson deployed the boat to rescue the man, the department stated.

Once he was pulled from the river, the man was evaluated by Maury Regional EMS. Maury County Fire Department swiftwater boats also had been deployed, but because of the rural location of the incident, it was unlikely that they would have arrived before the man could hold on any longer. 

"We absolutely do not condone civilians attempting rescues; however, these highly trained individuals had to make a decision to use the resources at hand to save a life and they did," the Maury County Fire Department stated. "Great job!"     

Later in the day, Franklin firefighters rescued a man clinging to a tree after his kayak capsized in floodwaters.

The man was seen at around 2:30 p.m. struggling to get back in his overturned kayak in the flooded Harpeth River, according to the Franklin Fire Department. Using a drone with a thermal imaging camera and with the help of the Franklin police, it took crews around 15 minutes to locate the man, who was holding on to a tree surrounded by floodwaters near the Lewisburg Pike canoe launch. Firefighters also located three other people who had become separated from the stranded kayaker.

A rescue boat was deployed, and the man was able to climb down from the tree and into the board under his own power. He was safely brought to shore and was evaluated by Williamson Center EMS medics.

The three other individuals, including another man whose kayak had also capsized, were uninjured.

"With high water levels, strong currents, trees and debris, it’s extremely dangerous to enter flooded rivers and water," the department stated. "These individuals were very lucky."

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