When the call came in to Washington State Trooper Rocky Oliphant last Saturday morning, he thought he had a flood scene on his hands. By his own account, he wasn’t prepared to drive straight towards a wall of mud and debris on State Route 530.
A native of Marysville, Wash., Trooper Oliphant, 27, has been on the job in this area for several years and is very familiar with the stretch of state highway around the small town of Oso. That also means he knows many of the residents there; for him, this was personal.
Trooper Oliphant said there were power lines down at the scene and his training kicked in to avoid the area until he could get all the “all clear” on potential electrical danger. But two brave civilians, ignoring possible danger to themselves, started slogging through the muck when they heard sounds of a crying baby.
Minutes later, Oliphant got news that the power lines weren't “live” and began a trek through the mess constructing a makeshift walkway of roofing and boards, as he went. He grabbed anything he could find for the civilian heroes to have a path to walk back on after rescuing the infant, and later his mother.
This is what Trooper Oliphant posted on his Facebook page:
I would like to say thank you for all the praise I have received. I don't really know how to feel about it all. I would like to say that the civilians that were with me initially deserve a lot of thanks. Though I don't know who they are they exhibited a lot of courage.
"Courage is not the absence of fear, rather, the understanding that something is more important than fear." I believe these citizens fit this description very well.
The community of Arlington/Darrington/Oso is full of strong, loving and caring people that don't blink in the face of Danger. So I would like to say thank you for all those that have worked tirelessly out there.
Keep this community in your thoughts and prayers.
Aerial views of the mudslide here.
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