Oconto County deputy, K9s escape from washed out road
MAPLE VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) - Oconto County Sheriff Todd Skarban recounted a frightening situation for a sheriff’s deputy and two K9s during Thursday night’s storms when heavy rain washed out a county highway.
Sgt. Chad Angus was driving along County Highway A in Maple Valley when the roadway swallowed him up.
“He was responding to help me. Wasn’t going very fast, 30 miles per hour, car lights coming towards him, so he’s going and next thing you know the road is gone. And he was driving and he could see the pavement of course, the glare from the lights, and all of a sudden he was boom, down in,” Sheriff Skarban described.
Heavy rain undermined a four-foot-wide section of the roadway where there was a culvert. The pavement collapsed as Angus’s squad passed over it. The SUV dropped into the rushing water, the impact with the ditch setting off the air bags.
Angus was able to get out quickly with his K9s and radioed for help.
“25 Oconto squad damaged. The road is washed out. Check my location on the screen please.”
Skarban said, “He got out through the driver door and because the car was still hung up a little bit -- there was still asphalt there until after the fact. Mother Nature did her job. It’s crazy the amount of force water can come through, and it ate underneath the bank and chunks of 10x10 blacktop were falling into the water and it was taking him away.”
They were helped by a member of the highway department before the force of the water and the crumbling road eventually swept the squad away.
“His squad was actually holding up a portion of the concrete,” Skarban said, “and by the time the water was able to get around that, that part washed away and took the squad with it down to the swamp. We didn’t get it out until 7:30, 8 this morning because the water levels were still so high.”
Angus had been responding to weather-related calls with his two K9s Thursday night. He was responding to a tree falling on a vehicle on Sleeter Road when the highway gave way.
The water levels receded Friday but the gap where the culvert failed continued to grow.
Looking at it Friday, Sheriff Skarban can respect the power of Mother Nature, and he praised his crews for everyone surviving this ordeal.
“We were very thankful Sgt. Angus wasn’t injured. Seat belts and air bags work, safety equipment was applied, and just a good, common-sense, savvy cop night-shifter and just steady, and we care greatly about each other in this organization.”
Sgt. Angus and the K9s won’t be back to work Friday night; they’re on their scheduled days off. Angus will be back on patrol next week.
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