Yukon police officer, roofing workers save area storm spotter from drowning

Yukon police Sgt. Matt Fairchild saved storm spotter Chris Novy from drowning Friday night when Novy's car was pulled into a flooded drainage ditch.
HANNAH COVINGTON hcovington@opubco.com Modified: June 5, 2013 at 9:21 pm •  Published: June 5, 2013

The water in front of Chris Novy's car looked smooth, no more than a few inches deep.

Novy, a 30-year veteran storm spotter and assistant chief engineer at KOKH-25, knew he should turn around anyway. He thought he could pull a U-turn in an adjacent parking lot without incident.

He was wrong.

Novy's vehicle plunged into a swirling drainage ditch concealed by the placid surface waters near the intersection of W Main and S Ranchwood Boulevard, making him one of many drivers surprised by the flooded roads after Friday's tornadoes and pelting rains.

The storm spotter was pulled out of his car by the current and almost drowned before being saved by a Yukon police officer and three roofers.

“I didn't even realize what the danger was,” Novy said.

The EF5 tornado Novy had been watching earlier in the day had tracked to the northwest, near El Reno. He thought the weather threat was over as he drove to the television station about 7 p.m.

“The EF5 tornado wasn't a danger to me, but it was the flooding, the more common thing, that was harder to see,” Novy said. “Making that turn into the creek was a near-fatal mistake.”

After the nose of his car was sucked underwater, Novy felt himself flipping upside down as water roared into the vehicle's interior.

Then darkness.

Yukon police Sgt. Matt Fairchild was watching the scene from down the block. When the car disappeared, Fairchild feared the worst.

“My first thought when I saw it happen was, ‘This guy is dead. There's no way he is going to make it out of that culvert,'” Fairchild said.

Fairchild still ran toward the submerged vehicle.

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