STILLWATER, Okla. — They just stepped onto the porch to watch the storm but wound up saving more than one person on Aug.16, when a torrential downpour flooded city streets in Stillwater.
Friends Zach Willis, Zach Palmateer, Thomas Corbell, Jake DeWolf, Jack Barry and Nate Kelly said they saw a line of cars backed up on their road and thought a car must be stuck, so they decided to go push it out of the intersection.
But then they looked back and realized a car was sitting along the street at what they thought was an odd angle. The decided they had better check it out to see if someone was stuck.
“So we kind of made our way down and we kind of peeked in the window and there was a lady sitting in the passenger seat kind of freaking out,” Willis said.
“We all opened the doors to get her out and Jack put her over his shoulders and we carried her over the water back to our house and comforted her and got her to calm down,” DeWolf said.
The water had already risen about halfway up the door, the men said. It was strong enough to make walking difficult and knock Kelly off his feet when he first stepped in.
After they got the woman settled, the friends stayed out there, helping other people for what they estimate was about two hours.
DeWolf said he went up the block to Orchard and 6th Avenue to stop traffic and keep more people from getting stuck in the high water.
Westwood neighborhood resident Richard Buchanan and his wife witnessed the events while standing under the carport at their nearby home.
He said the young men, most of whom are OSU aviation students, stripped off their shirts and shoes and waded into water up to their thighs to help, sometimes having to steady each other as they went.
“Oh my God, that water was fast,” he said.
He was the one who contacted the City of Stillwater to nominate the young men for a commendation in honor of their act of bravery and citizenship.
“In Stillwater, so frequently we do nothing but bad-mouth our male college students and I thought it was time that we pointed out something good that they did,” Buchanan said.
After their recognition at the City Council meeting, he treated the four men who could be present for the award to a steak dinner.