50 Years, 50 Stories

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Published April 11, 1994 in The Ledger Independent

Following the weekend’s deluge of rain, Lawrence Creek was running high and fast Sunday, covering the end of Morton Lane of of Kentucky 5036 near Moransburg in Mason County.

Charles Cooper and his three children were out in Cooper’s pickup truck looking for a dog when they approached the area where the creek had spilled across the road, said Deputy Sheriff Terry Vice.

Cooper pulled to the edge of the road, trying to decide whether to make an attempt to cross the swollen stream. With the truck’s front wheels in the water, the man decided against the move but before he could put the truck in reverse, the rapidly running waters captured the vehicle, pulling it into the creek. Vice said.

Pat Huron, who lives in the area, was preparing taxes at a house next door to his own home when he received a phone call from his wife who had seen the Cooper vehicle, with the children inside, being washed down the creek. When Huron heard “three children,” he thought of his own children and immediately ran outside, he said.

“I saw the truck tumbling down the creek,” Huron explained. “The man was about to go nuts.”

Realizing the occupants of the truck were in grave danger, Huron didn’t waste any time in making the decision to attempt a rescue.

“I knew I had to go in after them,” he said.

Vice was in the Moransburg area shortly after 1 p.m., when a call came into the sheriff’s office through emergency dispatch 911 telling of the situation.

He arrived on the scene less than three minutes after receiving the call, he said. There he found Cooper, along with his three children, Adam Chase Cooper, 3, Kenneth Charles Cooper, 5, and Pamela Sue Barnett, 7, clinging to the roof of the truck. The vehicle has been swept 20-30 feet downstream and had wedged against a cattle fence.

Huron had already tried to pull the foursome to safety and nearly lost his life in the deal, he said.

A companion had tied a rope around Huron’s waist, allowing him to wade to the truck. But the rope didn’t hold and Huron was pulled under and became tangled in the fence.

“I thought it was all over,” Huron said. He found an opening in the fence and managed to surface.

“Soaking wet, half-drowned and scared to death” Huron made another attempt but his companion’s handhold broke and he again was fighting for his own life.

As Vice surveyed the scene, he decided to tackle the rescue effort from the other side of the fence. He waded into the rapidly rising water, lodged himself against some trees and plucked the terrified children, one by one, from the truck’s roof, handing them to Huron who then handed them to someone on shore.

Cooper managed to crawl out of the bed of the truck, making it to shore.

“Very cold, very wet, and very scared,” the family was taken to Meadowview Regional Hospital for treatment but later released.

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