Woman caught up in flood waters saved by Knoxville firefighters

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — You likely know the saying, “Turn around don’t drown,” but for a woman who was driving down Papermill Drive, turning around came too late during Monday night’s storm.

“It’s a cautionary tale,” Knoxville Fire Department Battalion Chief Rusty Singleton said. “It’s about a sweet girl, a hard-working girl who’s out working, and got caught in this water. And I know she knows that she probably shouldn’t have gone through that high water. In fact, about halfway through it, she decided to make a U-turn.”

That’s when her car got swept away.

“It just so happened that I was sitting at the red light at Papermill, just about 100 yards where she went into the water,” Singleton said. “And Engine 18 was leaving another water call heading down Kingston Pike when the call came in.”

Members of Station 18, Justin Ingle, Chris McReynolds, Ethan Tompkins, and Chief Steven Singleton, were on their way back from another water rescue when they got the one on Papermill Drive.

“(Singleton) started from the east side and we started from the west, and we were just looking for a vehicle, a person, any indication of where we were headed and what we were dealing with,” Ingle said.

By this time, the woman had gotten out of her car, which was completely underwater, she was hanging on to a tree for dear life.

“She really thought about giving up,” Singleton said. “She was worn out and tired and exhausted, but when she saw our light, she said I’m going to scream a little more. So, that’s when she started screaming and Justin jumped in the water and got her.”

Ingle and other members of Station 18 took action fast,

“All the training we do helps us prepare for that but when you’re in that moment, it’s gut instincts,” Ingle said.

Days later, she went back to her car to see the damage.

Singleton just so happened to be driving by and stopped to see how she was doing.

“When we come in contact with somebody it’s the worst day of their lives,” he said.

She wanted to say thank you to the team that saved her life.

“To be able to hug her neck and for her to be able to say thank you and have that special moment was really nice,” Ingle said.

It was a rewarding moment for the team and a lesson learned.

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