Helicopter (chopper) pilots from the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) pulled off a daring stunt to rescue a Kenyan driver whose fuel tanker was swept away by flooding water along the Galana-Kulalu causeway on Wednesday, May 3.
Witnesses revealed that the driver had been stranded in his vehicle since 10:00 am when the river was unexpectedly flooded and the raging waters surrounding the tanker. The rising waters had left him trapped and at risk of being swept away by the fast-moving current, despite his attempts to escape.
The water level rose gradually and eventually tipped the fuel tanker on its side, forcing the driver to climb out of the cabin as water gushed inside, leaving the driver facing a do-or-die situation before the water swept him off.
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He remained trapped at the same spot for over 6 hours, calling for help from the nearby residents, who however could not pull him out owing to the strong winds and the intensity of the water.
He was forced to tangle with the flood waters until around 4.30 pm when one of the managers within the Galana-Kulalu region alerted Sheldrick Wildlife Trust pilots.
“The moment we received the call, our Aerial Unit sprung into action. Taru Carr-Hartley flew the SWT helicopter to the scene, accompanied by Roan Carr-Hartley.
“They could immediately spot the breached truck, dwarfed by the angry river. As they flew closer, they were relieved to see the driver, still hanging on,” stated SWT in part.
Slowly and steadily, Taru guided the helicopter down towards the truck, hovering an astonishing six inches above.
On his part, Roan strapped into a harness that was attached to the aircraft. In one smooth motion, he stepped onto the tanker, grabbed the driver’s hand, and helped him onboard.
“The driver had been stuck in the floodwaters since 10:00 that morning. We can only imagine what was racing through his mind as the water continued to rise around him.
“Within minutes of the helicopter’s arrival, however, he was back on firm ground. It was a high-stakes rescue mission that ended with the best possible outcome,” added SWT.
Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has been involved in several rescue missions, including one that involved a child who was lost in the Tsavo National Park for six days.
“Four hours of scanning revealed nothing but hyenas and jackals, then I saw a tiny boy surrounded by endless wilderness. I was in shock that he was still alive and walking,” Roan explained at the time.
The Kenya Red Cross had on April 13, 2023, warned Kenyans against expected heavy rainfall likely leading to floods over several parts of the country, with poor drainage areas likely to lead to flooding as a result of the ongoing rainy season.
In addition, motorists were advised to drive carefully and avoid using bridges, as pedestrians were warned against walking in moving water.
Both scenarios have the potential of cars and pedestrians being swept away by rushing water and have devastating consequences, including road accidents with the risk of fatalities.