Ronald Bumpus, the veteran trucker who was rescued, wasn’t surprised to learn that it was truck drivers who came to his aid.
Rainfall totals of 10 to 20 inches were measured northwest of Houston on Monday, according to The Weather Channel. Rainfall rates were reported as much as 4 inches per hour. As of Monday, authorities received more than 600 calls of people needing assistance because of the flood.
Bumpus, a 66-year-old trucker from Murfreesboro, Tenn., was making his usual haul back and forth from Texas when his GPS told him he needed to turn around and go the other way.
“When I went to turn left, there was hardly any water,” Bumpus said. “It was ankle deep. When I made the left turn, everything looked good. I thought I could get through. About the time I got to the bridge the levee on the other side that was holding water back, part of it collapsed. When it did, water went through there and went from ankle deep to over the hood of my truck. I tried to reverse out. I made it 10 or 12 feet, but I didn’t have any weight in the back of the trailer. It was so light, I just started floating and couldn’t go anywhere.”
Bumpus remained calm and called a wrecker service, as well as his insurance company. He even told people asking him for assistance that they could go on because he had help coming. Eventually, though, Bumpus was told by one of the passersby that he needed to act now.
Fellow trucker Daniel Sieczkarski, who works for Melton Truck Lines out of Tulsa, Okla., and several others began working to rescue Bumpus from his truck.
Wearing a life jacket attached to a 30-foot hose, Sieczkarski went into the water to rescue Bumpus, while the others held on to the hose.
When Sieczkarski reached the truck, he said Bumpus told him that he couldn’t swim.
“He said he was scared and that he was afraid of the water,” Sieczkarski said. “I held him with one hand while I tried to swim. We went under water for a bit. He had me in a bear hug, and I tried to swim while the others pulled.”
Soon after, Sieczkarski and Bumpus reached the shore.
“When he got to the truck, the water inside the truck was about a foot deep,” Bumpus said. “He pulled me into the water, and they pulled us back to shore. They got me towels and dried me off. They were very good to me.”
Bumpus said he is fine except for a sore shoulder. Still in a Brookshire hotel on Tuesday waiting for insurance information, Bumpus said he believes the trailer can be salvaged but the tractor will be a total loss.
“I’m waiting for insurance to get me a rental back home, and then I can start figuring out how to get a new truck,” he said.
Bumpus hopes to get back on the highway alongside his truck-driving brethren.
“The one thing you can depend on in this world is a truck driver,” Bumpus said. “They will help you.”
Sieczkarski, an OOIDA member, said he was proud of what he and the others were able to accomplish.
“I have some scratches on my hands, legs and back, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world to have the chance of saving another human life. None of us had ever done anything like that before. It was just a bunch of people coming together as one to save another driver’s life. If there’s anything I can do to save someone’s life, I’m going to do it.”