THP pilot talks about dramatic rescue at Cummins Falls - WSMV News 4

THP pilot talks about dramatic rescue at Cummins Falls

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Officials say the water rose three feet in a matter of minutes. (WSMV) Officials say the water rose three feet in a matter of minutes. (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

It was all about timing.

Emergency crews say if Tennessee Highway Patrol pilot Lt. Brad Lund hadn't been in the area with his chopper, several people would be dead.

“There was a massive amount of water coming over the falls, unlike I have ever seen before,” said Lund.

Lund was just 10 minutes away from Cummins Falls State Park, heading to Nashville when he got a call from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency asking him to turn around.

He didn't know what to expect.

“There were numerous people stranded. There was a lot of water coming off the falls that basically covered the windshield,” Lund said.

Lund had little time.

He said he needed another crew member, so he turned around to dry land and recruited a park ranger.

“I had basically give a crash course to a park ranger that had never been in a helicopter before,” Lund said.

And up they went over the water.

“The park ranger was able to reach out and grab the arms of the victims and help pull them into the aircraft,” Lund said.

Lund said he and the ranger rescued an entire family in serious danger. They had to pull up each person individually and fly them to safety.

He said one of the children almost didn't make it.

“Numerous times he was submerged, he would go underwater for five to 10 seconds at a time, and then come up 30 or 40 feet downstream. He was crashing into rocks and all sorts of obstacles,” Lund said.

Lund said the boy was knocked unconscious, but was eventually able to stand up on a rock.

Lund lowered a skid and the ranger was able to pull him into the helicopter.

That boy's mother was waiting anxiously on land for news.

“Our park ranger had told her he had pulled out of the water downstream, and she was very emotional,” Lund said.

Steve Williams lives near the park and saw parts of the rescue.

“I’ve seen some pretty neat flying from helicopter pilots in the military. This guy's a hero,” Williams said.

Lund doesn't see it that way.

“I was just at the right place at the right time and had the right tools and right training,” he said.

Lund and the ranger pulled a total of nine people to safety in the chopper.

Another 30 were rescued on land.

Lund has been a THP pilot of 17 years. He said Wednesday was his most memorable day yet.

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