AGFC Review of Fatal Flood
They are remembered as heroes. But could better training and equipment made them living heroes?
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has completed an investigation into the flash flooding that killed Scott County Sheriff Cody Carpenter, wildlife officer Joel Campora and three civilians.
Even the best training and equipment couldn't guarantee a different outcome.
But some things that would have improved the odds.
The report includes a picture of the terrain around Y City. It shows a geological bathtub...and all that heavy rain water was funneling towards the spot where two women where trapped in their home.
"What we believe happened now was is that they actually had one of the victims in the boat," says AGFC Director Mike Knoedl about the rescue attempt made by Carpenter and Campora. "That is what our reconstructionists tell us. And that the other victim was still inside the house when the house was swept away."
The report says the officer's boat hit a tree and capsized.
It was later recovered, as were the bodies of Sheriff Carpenter, Officer Campora, and the two women they bravely tried to save.
The after action report states that "...during floods it is arguable whether flat-bottom boats with 25-horsepower motors are sufficient to attempt rescue operations."
A semi-rigid inflatable boat...known as a Zodiac rescue boat...would have stood a better chance in the conditions. But one wasn't available.
Better life jackets could have been used as well. But all these things cost money, and flooding of this magnitude is exceedingly rare.
"I highly suspect that there will be a couple of Zodiac boats purchased," says Director Knoedl. "I do know that the life jackets will be purchased....the rescue type. And some throw-able type devices that are used in rescue situations as well."
Knoedl showed us a picture of a flash flood rescue he was a part of years ago in Dallas County.
He understands the risks.
"I fully believe that all the stars lined up that night and, you know, what happened was meant to be," says Knoedl. "And I don't think that any equipment or any training would have changed that. I really don't."
Both the investigation and the after-action report can be reviewed here:
Air date: August 28th, 2013