OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Six people were caught in a dam at Lake Overholser Sunday afternoon, requiring dozens of emergency responders to save them.
“It’s always urgent when you have moving water,” said Heath Gutherie, Acting Chief for the Oklahoma City Fire Department. “It is a swift water rescue in this situation which is a very important, time sensitive thing.”
About 30 emergency responders were called to the scene at about 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.
The initial call was that four people were trapped under the dam.
Gutherie explained that they swam into the water and a current caught them and swept them up next to the dam.
“It’s somewhat like a river,” he said. “You have quite a bit of water coming out of the spillway. Some of it was making a turn into a pool beneath the dam.”
One swimmer did escape back to shore, leaving three holding on for their lives.
“The hardest part is controlling the scene,” Gutherie explained. “There’s a lot of people that want to help. We did have three bystanders go in. I understand their mindset and what they’re thinking, but that’s three more people we have to save.”
Oklahoma City firefighters were tasked with rescuing six trapped people in total.
They dropped down life preservers and then sent a boat in to collect the group. The operation wrapped up in about a half-hour.
“It was a good mission,” Gutherie said. “Our crews did great. They acted quickly and professionally. They did what they were trained to do.”
He has some final words of wisdom for the community.
“Water safety, water safety, water safety,” he said. “This is moving water. This isn’t your swimming pool in the back yard. If you aren’t a strong swimmer, [even] if you are a strong swimmer, wear a life preserver in that situation.”
The rescued individuals ranged in age from about 11-years-old to full grown adults. A few of them had minor complaints of chest pain or inhaled water but no one needed to be taken to the hospital.