Whitley County Sheriff’s Deputy Jonas Saunders and Emergency Management Director Danny Moses led an effort Tuesday night to rescue a woman trapped on a tree branch in the swollen Cumberland River outside of Williamsburg.
“He deserves just about all of the credit,” Moses said of Saunders.
Moses said emergency personnel were called to the scene about a mile-and-a-half east of Williamsburg off of Ky. 92.
Moses said Felicia Bunch and an unidentified male had gone into the river in an attempt to retrieve a boat they had seen floating down past their location.
“The current was very swift in that area and there was a lot of debris floating in it,” Moses said noting a nearby bend in the river was increasing the water flow.
While Moses was among the first on the scene, Saunders and area firefighters and law enforcement arrived soon after.
Using 100 feet of rope that Saunders had in his cruiser, two lifejackets Moses carried in his truck, and a small john boat one of the firefighters had, Saunders and Moses were able to reach the tree branch that Bunch was clinging to for life.
Firefighters from Goldbug, Patterson Creek, Emlyn, Williamsburg and Woodbine, along with Williamsburg Police, and Whitley County Sheriff’s deputies held onto the rope that was tied to the boat and then pulled it back to safety once Saunders and Moses had gotten Bunch off of the branch.
“There was no way we could paddle out there,” Moses said noting if the river was running normally the tree would have been up on the bank but with the flooding it was about 50 feet from the shoreline.
Moses said the man was able to get out of the river on his own.
Whitley County EMS also responded to the scene and treated Bunch for hypothermia.
Moses said the rescue took approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
“It seemed like days,” Moses said.