Rutherford Co. first responders awarded Medal of Valor after flood water rescue of father, daughter

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RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Four first responders are being honored after saving the life of a father and daughter who were trapped inside their vehicle in flood waters in Rutherford County.

During the last weekend of March, Rutherford County crews responded to more than 30 water rescues calls.

Bob Walsh, Chris Molder, Desmond Baker and Doug Roell were all given Medals of Valor following their rescue efforts the night of March 28 on Central Valley Road.

Lance Alexis and his 13-year-old daughter Annabelle were driving back home after dropping off a friend around 8 p.m. It’s a drive neither of them will soon forget.

“When I made the turn… I saw there had been some caution tape but it was on the ground. So, I went okay it must be open. I took the path and before I knew it… I hit some water,” said Alexis.

The current took control of Alexis’ vehicle and it traveled down the road.

“Next thing you know, we started taking on water. The front end of the car started dipping forward. We started to panic a bit… but I knew I called 911, help was coming,” said Alexis.

Rescue crews arrived just before one of the most terrifying moments of Alexis’ life.

“Out of the blue, the water just kept rising and rising and rising. Next thing I know, we couldn’t see them anymore. I found out later we had become submerged. I don’t think we were ever without oxygen but we were getting very close when they broke the back glass and pushed us out,” said Alexis.

Alexis told News 2’s Alex Corradetti that time stood still in those moments.

“Two minutes and fourteen seconds from the time they arrived to the time they got us out. I remember when they pulled up and we saw them and took a deep breath… like I said and just to think that it happened that fast. And while we were in there it felt like forever,” said Alexis.

Alexis has a piece of advice for drivers during severe weather.

“If you know there’s a safer route, take the safer route. And that’s what I regret… I wish I had taken the safer route,” said Alexis.

The four Rutherford County Fire Rescue crew members involved in the efforts received Medals of Valor at a ceremony on April 15. Alexis told News 2 he will be forever grateful for their actions.

“You know they’ve got to get frustrated, you know they’ve got to be like here we go again another person who maybe drove around a barricade or thought they could get through or whatever. But there was none of that. Their hearts are just so good and you can just see God’s spirit in them,” explained Alexis.

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