River Rescue in Santa Maria

Helicopter Used to Hoist Man on Tractor out of Santa Maria River

The major storms promised by weatherpeople everywhere landed in Santa Barbara County on Friday night, bring rainfall totals into a happy place and not causing too much unnecessary havoc for residents. Urban and rural creeks reached fast flows, some corners of the cities were hit by localized flooding, and a few trees may have landed on cars, but overall, the damage seems acceptable, given that the water is desperately needed after one of the drier years on record.

What did you think of this storm?

See the results without voting.

But for one farmworker in the Santa Maria Valley, the rains led to a perilous Saturday morning. According to county fire Captain Kurt Warner, three engine crews and a helicopter were needed to hoist a man out of the Santa Maria River on Saturday morning around 8 a.m. on January 5. The man had driven his tractor across the river on Friday to an island in the middle of the river, and attempted to do the same on Saturday morning. But, according to “The water was much deeper,” explained Warner,” and washed his very heavy tractor and trailer downstream. When personnel first arrived, the water was at the top of the tractor cab.”

Once the search and rescue teams arrived, they called in a helicopter and set up areas downriver where they could catch the floating man, if the air rescue failed. Luckily, the helicopter hoisting maneuver worked, and the man was brought to paramedics onshore. He was uninjured, just scared.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind everybody not to enter the water during these periods of stormy weather,” warned Warner. “The water can be much deeper and is moving much faster than people suspect:.It’s very dangerous:Stay out of the rainflow in rivers, so that we avert any further incidents.”

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Lawmakers Move to Impede Offshore Oil Leases

A pair of bills aim to counter the federal government's new push for production.

More Money Available for Santa Barbara County’s Disaster Victims

The United Way is giving to Santa Barbara nonprofits and offering direct cash grants.

Santa Barbara’s Commuter Train Brings Solid Ridership and Timely Service

The first two weeks of service have seen a daily average topping 180 riders.

Animal Care for New Cuyama

County Animal Services will host free and discount pet services on April 22.

Goleta’s Library Is Seeking Volunteers

The location is separating from Santa Barbara's system and needs help changing barcodes.