Coffeyville teen rescued from high    water

A photo of the rescue site by Coffeyville firefighters.


VALEDA — Coffeyville firefighters rescued a Coffeyville teenager who got caught in high water southwest of Valeda Thursday morning in Labette County.

LaShandra Bilby, 19, Coffeyville, was driving a Ford Ranger extended cab pickup in the area when the flooding Snow Creek pushed the pickup off the road and against a fence. She called authorities at 11:33 a.m.

Rescue personnel from Coffeyville, Edna and Parsons responded, as did Labette County sheriff’s deputies and Labette Health Ambulance Service. Parsons firefighters were called off when they were within about four miles of the rescue site.

Billy Cockman, Coffeyville’s fire chief, said he tagged along with firefighters Kevin Midgett and Caleb Horn on the rescue. Cockman began duties on Monday.

The firefighters used an inflatable rescue boat to navigate to Bilby. Cockman, who worked in Jacksonville, Florida, before taking the Coffeyville job, said the water flow forced the rescue boat up against the pickup. Firefighters placed a vest on Bilby and helped her into the rescue boat. Bilby had climbed out of the cab of the pickup and onto its roof before rescuers arrived.

The water was rising in the pickup. The fence kept the pickup from moving.

“(The water) was moving pretty swiftly,” Cockman said.

After firefighters reached Bilby, Cockman said they traveled east about a quarter of a mile in the rescue boat to get to EMS personnel. They were able to walk the boat out of the waist-deep floodwater to the east. The water was too swift to stand up on the west end, where firefighters entered the floodwater.

Bilby was not injured and the pickup was going to be towed after the water receded.

Cockman said Midgett and Horn also were involved in a rescue two miles west of Cherryvale earlier Thursday.

A man living on County Road 5130 didn’t realize how far Drum Creek had flowed out of its banks overnight. When he awoke Thursday morning, the floodwater got into his car so he called authorities to get out. Cherryvale firefighters and Coffeyville firefighters responded to get the man out of the water.

Cockman said he was “very proud of the department.”

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