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Tow-truck driver rescued after truck stranded in high water off Leiters Mill Road bridge

April 28, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • This truck became stuck in high water on Leiters Mill Road late Thursday morning. The driver had to be rescued by raft.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

LEITERSBURG — A tow-truck driver had to be rescued Thursday morning when his truck got stranded in high water off a one-lane bridge near the 21300 block of Leiters Mill Road north of Hagerstown.

Rescuers with Washington County Special Operations pushed a raft through waist-deep water about 75 yards out to the truck, where the driver was waiting for help in the front seat.

The driver got into the boat, and rescuers pulled him back to the roadway at about 11:15 a.m.

Leitersburg Volunteer Fire Co. Deputy Chief Robert Myerly said the driver, whose name was unavailable, refused medical treatment at the scene.

Myerly said the driver was heading north on Leiters Mill Road at about 10:30 a.m. when his truck crossed a one-lane bridge over Antietam Creek and ran into about 3 feet of standing water.

"Every time we get heavy rain like this we have floods," Myerly said. "No one pays attention to the (posted) signs."

Myerly said authorities would have to wait until the water recedes to recover the truck.

Renee Frey, who lives nearby on Leiter Street, said she walked down to the creek on Thursday morning to check out the high water and saw the truck stranded near the bridge.

"I thought, 'Uh oh,'" Frey said. "I just didn't want to see the water push the truck over."

Frey, a former lifeguard, said she called 911 at about 10:35 a.m. and was ready to jump in the water to save the driver if he got swept away.

"It didn't look like that was going to happen, but you never know" she said. "He was just kind of sitting there. He wasn't waving his arms of anything."

Antietam Creek had overflowed its banks in that area, and water was covering the roadway on the north side of the bridge. The rapidly moving creek water continued to rise as rescuers made their way to the driver of the tow truck.

Maryland State Police and the Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co. assisted at the scene.

A firefighter at the scene said the tow truck belonged to Ecton & Son, which is on Eastern Boulevard near Hagerstown.

A woman at Ecton & Son, who wanted to be identified only as Tina, said Thursday afternoon that the tow truck was making a run to help a school bus that had been stranded earlier in the same spot. She said the school bus was pulled out by a farmer before the tow truck arrived.

Myerly said the storm kept Leitersburg firefighters busy Thursday morning. In addition to the water rescue, they responded to calls for flooding, a mudslide and a downed tree.

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