Deadly Flooding in Central Kentucky

Reported by: Melanie Kendall
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Updated: 12/22/2013 11:53 pm

Officials say at least nine people died in storms in the U.S. this weekend.  Five of those deaths were in Kentucky.

In Nelson County, three people died after Pottinger Creek swept away their SUV.

A SUV carrying five people were driving along Dee Head Road near New Hope and tried to cross a flooded bridge just before three o’clock Sunday morning.  The SUV was submerged in the water.  Two people got out safely but three others were still trapped inside when rushing water picked up the vehicle, took it downstream and underwater.

Authorities say the water had risen eight to ten feet above the concrete bridge.

“They either did not recognize it as being high water or some other factor but they entered the high water,” said Joe Prewitt, Nelson County Emergency management Director.

The two who escaped were taken to Flaget Memorial hospital for hypothermia and stress. No word on their current condition.

One of the survivors called 911 as they were escaping.  The first crews arrived in about eight minutes.

“I brought a boat but it just wasn't safe to put the boat in the water so I called for a swift water rescue team that came in out of Campbellsville and Green County to assist us with this operation,” said Frank Hall, Chief of the Rolling Fork Fire Department.

Hours later, rescue crews made contact with what they believed to be the completely submerged SUV downstream of the bridge.  Rescue operations switched to a recovery operation.  Since so many hours had already passed and the darkness, crews waited until the water receded and for daylight to continue their search.

Authorities recovered the three bodies from the SUV around 11:30 Sunday morning.

Nelson County got about five inches of rain but Prewitt said the agriculture land surrounding the bridge was already saturated with water.

“All the rain that hits those areas runs off somewhere, it has to go somewhere, and that's where these small creeks, tributaries get out of their banks very rapidly,” said Prewitt.

Another person drowned in Carroll County after flood waters flipped an ATV and pinned the person underwater.

A third drowning was in Ballard County where an abandoned vehicle was found in a flooded ditch.  Officials later found a body downstream.

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