Support Salvation Army Wildfire Relief

Military cargo truck makes light work of rescuing family from floodwaters

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- A south Overland Park family scrambled to the safety of their roof to escape rising flood waters, and there they were stranded.
Authorities couldn't get to them.

A Blue Springs landscaper rode in on, not a white horse, but a military surplus cargo truck, to save the day.

A family of seven -- four adults and three children and their pets -- were rescued safely after being on top of their home's roof. Rising floodwaters from the Blue River left them no other choice.

"Do you want to participate in a rescue mission? I said 'let's do it,'" said Spencer Sherf.

Sherf and his boss saw the news coverage of a family stranded on their roof and knew they had perfect vehicle for the job.

"I saw it on the news. I counted from the pictures on the news, I counted how many people there were so I brought life jackets and a ladder," said vehicle owner Cyrus Dawson.

This Oshkosh Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical TruckĀ (HEMTT) is a military surplus cargo truck Dawson bought for his landscape design business.

At more than nine feet tall, with 52-inch tires, Sherf's Facebook video shows how it confidently made its way through four-foot floodwaters, while firefighters waited for the levels to recede.

"At first they were not going to let us go through. We kind of snuck around the back side of the neighborhood," Sherf explained.

After the family waited for hours for firefighters who never arrived, Sherf says the family had gotten down off the roof, and told their rescuers that they were hungry.

"They were excited to get out of there. They were excited to see this thing show up and rescue them. We had one of their family members with us so they were all excited, loaded them up and got them over here."

With eight-wheel drive on the big transport truck, Dawson says he was never concerned about water sweeping them away.

"How would I describe it? Very capable. I think Fire and Rescue ought to have them," Dawson said.

The fire department did not coordinate the operation, but is happy everyone is now safe.

"The individual did this on his own and there are some risks associated with that. We don`t encourage private citizens to take great risks. So we never would condone that," said Jason Rhodes with Overland Park Fire Department.

Kenneth is a known high water trouble spot. Those with property here said they just finished cleaning up from flooding a month ago.

Dawson said he didn't want to offend anybody but knew his truck could get the job done.