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At a ceremony Sunday, leaders from Collins Aerospace Systems’ helicopter rescue hoist business presented the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) with the company’s Rescue of the Year Award. Each year, Collins Aerospace honors one of its Goodrich hoist customers for a particularly daring helicopter rescue executed using the company’s hoist. This year, Texas DPS was recognized for rescues it carried out during a flood in Junction, Texas, in October 2018. Collins Aerospace is a unit of United Technologies Corp.
After Junction received more than 18 inches of rain in less than 24 hours, the Llano River breached its banks and began flooding the surrounding area at a rate of 120 cubic feet per second. A nearby recreational vehicle campground was completely consumed by the rising water, which left trailers turned upside down and residents swept away or stranded in trees.
DPS 107 aircrew members Cpt. Shawn Stephenson, Lt. Jeff Evans and Texas Highway Patrol Tech. Sgt. Steven Tippett were called in to assist with water rescues in the Junction area. Working together, the crew saved the lives of four campground residents over the next few hours, including one woman who had spent nearly five hours in the Llano River and drifted 23 miles before being rescued by the aircrew after multiple attempts.
“In all my 21 years in law enforcement, including 11 years in the Aviation Operations Division, these rescues rank among the most technically difficult ones that I’ve ever seen our crews conduct,” said Texas DPS Maj. Jim Rohrman. “During the flood, the water reached speeds of nearly 30 mph and four residents lost their lives. If it were not for the quick response, timely decision-making and technical expertise of Stephenson, Evans and Tippett, it’s likely that number would’ve been even higher.”
“Collins Aerospace is pleased to recognize Texas DPS with this year’s Rescue of the Year Award,” said Cory VanBuskirk, general manager, Hoist and Winch for Collins Aerospace. “As in the case of the Llano River flood, we recognize that our hoists play an integral role in the search and rescue operations of our customers, and we are committed to providing them with the industry’s most advanced products in order to support their life-saving missions.”
Collins Aerospace is one of the leaders in today’s helicopter hoist rescue community. With nearly 40 different models of Goodrich hydraulic and electric rescue hoists and cargo winches, the company estimates it has more than 7,000 airborne hoists placed throughout the global fleet on commercial and military platforms.