On May 18, 2015, San Angelo resident Netty Roberts was making her way home during a thunderstorm after turning around on a trip to the San Angelo Regional Airport. She mistakenly traveled through a low-water crossing on Southwest Boulevard. According to a proclamation from the City of San Angelo, floodwaters sent Roberts’ vehicle into the Red Arroyo near the McDonald’s location on Southwest Boulevard. In the proclamation, Cristian Alvarado, Chris Burney and Magen Cantrell saw Roberts’ vehicle being swept off the road and sprang into action.
After multiple attempts to open the vehicle’s doors, which were unoperational because the power was cut by the water, the trio was able to free Roberts. Minutes later, the proclamation said, the vehicle was submerged in the waters.
Alvarado, Burney and Cantrell were honored for heroism at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Following is a letter written by Roberts’ family in recognition of the trio’s efforts:
You have heroes living among you, everyday heroes, people who acted instinctively and saved a woman’s life. That woman is our mother and we are forever grateful to the three young adults who came to her aid late Monday night on May 18th.
Our mother was scheduled to pick up a friend at the airport at 11 p.m. that evening. The friend had called confirming that the flight was boarding and about to leave. The rain wasn’t severe at the time, so there was no real concern. Living in the bluffs, she took her usual route; Southland Blvd., Southwest Blvd. and on to Knickerbocker Rd. After turning right on Southwest, the rain became extremely heavy and visibility became almost zero. She decided to turn around and head back home. Having just traveled on Southland, she felt the road would be flooded in the low areas, and thought that staying on Southwest to Loop 306 would be the best option. She had forgotten about the draw near the Loop.
As she neared the loop, her car was swept off the road. Workers at the McDonalds who were watching the torrential rain witnessed the incident and immediately ran to help. There was no hesitation in their decision. The water was extremely high and after a few moments a wall of water came through the draw pushing her car up on a cement ledge causing it to become lodged. Even though the car had stabilized, the crisis was not over. The car had lost power, and the water was flowing rapidly, preventing them from getting the doors open. They tried for several minutes to break a window. Finally, with all of them helping and our mother pushing from the inside, they succeeded in getting the door open enough to pull her to safety. They took our mother inside McDonalds and made sure she was comfortable. A few minutes later her car was completely submerged with only a corner of the opened trunk lid visible.
After seeing the news photo of the car and how difficult it would have been to work against the slope of the embankment and the rushing water, we feel sure that our mother wouldn’t be here today if not for these individuals: Chris Burney, Cristian Alvarado, and Magen Cantrell.
Words just can’t express our gratitude. Thank you, thank you, thank you and God bless you. San Angelo, you do have heroes among you.
Kim Harrison & Paula Mailloux and families