NCDOT workers rescued after mudslide sweeps dump truck into river

NCDOT workers rescued after mudslide sweeps dump truck into river
(Courtesy North Carolina Department of Transportation)
(Courtesy North Carolina Department of Transportation)

MCDOWELL COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - While clearing a road after a mudslide in McDowell County Tuesday night, North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) officials say a second mudslide swept an NCDOT tandem dump truck off the road and into the Catawba River.

Two NCDOT workers were inside the truck at the time it went off the road. In less than 10 minutes, the Old Fort Fire Department arrived to rescue the crew stuck in the truck.

The NCDOT workers followed proper protocol from rescue crews and "climbed out through a passenger window and stood on the side of the truck in the water until they were rescued," explained NCDOT officials.

David Uchiyama, a communications officer with NCDOT, said it was paramount the two NCDOT workers followed orders to stand on the side of the truck cab.

The 33,000-pound truck was pushed more than 1,000 feet downstream in just 10 feet of water.

Uchiyama said if the crew jumped in the water they wouldn't have made it.

Firefighters threw ropes and life jackets to the two people stranded on the truck and pulled them about 20 feet to shore. Both workers were unhurt but were taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Related: 'This storm isn't yet over.' Gov to declare state of emergency amid flooding in western NC 

NCDOT warns rising water continues to be just one of the issues facing much of western North Carolina in the wake of the storm. The group says severe rains have caused mudslides, washouts, and flooding on interstates, highways, and local roads across western NC.

Their crews have been working around the clock to assess damage, remove debris, clean pipes, and clear ditches.

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