Rescued from raging waters

Published 1:57 am Wednesday, December 16, 2009

By Staff
Adam Prestridge
Many people are dubbing him a “hero,” but Mike Allen said he did what any person would do in his position.
The 45-year-old Atmore resident used his Jet Ski to pull four people from flooded Brushy Creek late Monday night, hours after a vehicle they were traveling in submerged in the raging floodwaters rushing over Deere Creek Road.
Although he did not make the rescue attempt to be a hero, he did admit it is nice to hear.
Allen became aware of the situation, which took place about one half mile from his house, when his brother’s daughter contacted him asking if he had a boat that could withstand the strong current if a rescue attempt was made. It was then that he learned his other niece, Ashleigh Geck, was one of the people trapped in the floodwaters.
Rescue personnel with several fire departments across the area attempted several rescue attempts to no avail. They first formed a human chain attached to ropes, but could not withstand the strong current. Atmore Fire Department fireman Trent Lambert and Poarch Creek Fire Department’s Michael Woods then attempted to maneuver a small boat through the waters, but it capsized sending both men into the cold waters. Rescuers used ropes to quickly pull the men to shore.
Allen said he heard about the rescue efforts and that personnel had called in the United States Coast Guard to bring a helicopter in with rescue swimmers, but knew that nearby power lines would also pose a problem. He then took matters into his own hands.
Allen said he was not afraid of the rushing waters when he first put his Jet Ski in the water, but was of the reliability of his watercraft.
Allen’s fear became reality after he pulled the first victim, Geck, from the water after dodging trees and debris littering the water.
The second victim pulled to safety was Jeremy McGhee. His brother, Matt McGhee, was the third pulled to safety. The identity of the fourth victim is unknown.
All four were treated by paramedics at the scene and transported by ambulance to Atmore Community Hospital for further evaluation.
Even Atmore Public Safety Director Glenn Carlee called Allen a hero.
In addition, Carlee said he believes all the agencies involved “worked well together” and “communicated well.”
The initial call received from dispatchers just after 9 p.m. was that several cars had been swept away by the floodwaters on Deere Creek Road and that up to eight people were in the water. Limited light at the scene made it hard for rescue personnel to determine how many people were actually in the water and slowed rescue efforts down to prevent injuries.
Rescue personnel with the Atmore Fire Department, Poarch Fire Department, Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department, Walnut Hill Volunteer Fire Department, Atmore Police Department and Atmore Ambulance responded to the scene.

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