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Two rescued from marsh via helicopter

Two members of a surveying crew whose tracked vehicle became stuck in a marshy area were rescued via helicopter last week.

The sheriff’s office received the call around 5:30 p.m. of two contractors with the navigation district whose vehicle had become trapped in the much not far from the Rainbow Bridge, Assistant Chief Rod Carroll said.

Chief Deputy Mark Dubois with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Division said the men were in an area described as a muddy sludgy mess.

“The vehicle was made to go through this but they got stuck,” Dubois said. “They couldn’t walk out. It was the consistency of quicksand and we couldn’t get a boat in or a four-wheeler.”

Dubois said the deputies weren’t trained for this type of rescue operation but decided to try anyway. They made a few orbits, hovered and put one skid of the helicopter on the amphibious vehicle.

Dubois was one of three people on board — a pilot, co-pilot and Dubois in the back — when the men were rescued.

“We opened the door and had one climb in at a time,” he said, adding it took all three deputies to pull each man up into the helicopter. “We were able to drop one off then go back and get the other man. I truly believe if we had not been able to get them out we would have had to get Coast Guard bring a helicopter with a basket to get them out.”

The surveyors communicated with the deputies via cell phone throughout the incident.

The rescue was necessary due to the area the tracked vehicle became trapped. Carroll said the area was filled with recent heavy rainfall mixed with already swampy mud making it difficult to gauge the depth.

“And if you start walking you will get a mixture of mud and water similar to quicksand,” Carroll added.

In addition, snakes and alligators also call the area home.

Dubois is glad the rescue attempt worked.

“When we took off we didn’t know if we would be able to help or now,” Dubois said. “But it worked out good. I’m glad we were able to help them.”

The tracked vehicle was removed from the marshy area two days later via airboat, Carroll said.

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