By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Quick thinking, big tires save swamped motorist

Yamhill police officer Tom Hoy awoke to find his basement full of water Dec. 7, the day extremely heavy rain flooded fields and roads across Yamhill County. 

“I think maybe there was some divine intervention going on,” he said, looking back. Because unbeknownst to him at the time, that flooded basement set off a series of events culminating in a dramatic rescue.

Cleaning up the mess made him late for his shift in Yamhill, where he’s been working since 2011.

When he tried pulling out of his driveway in his patrol car, he found his street flooded as well. So he parked the cruiser and switched to his personal vehicle.

“I have this ridiculously tall truck I built for going to the dunes,” he said. While it’s street legal, he said, it has “monstrously tall tires,” measuring 44 inches in diameter.

He made it to Yamhill and prepared to head out on patrol in one of the department’s back-up cars. Then he received an emergency call from YCOM dispatcher Lindy Labunski.

“She’s usually cool and calm,” he said. “This time, I could tell she was stressed.”

The dispatcher told him a woman was trapped in a vehicle west of town, at the intersection of Moores Valley and Oakridge roads, and her Ford Taurus was filling with water.

“I jumped into my truck and flew out there,” Hoy recalled. “Her car looked like it was in the middle of a river.”

The “river” was really Moores Valley Road, a blacktopped stretch running alongside the North Yamhill.

By early Monday afternoon, it was covered with rushing water. The flood had risen so high, in fact, it was over the top of Hoy’s big truck tires.

He spotted the driver, who had climbed out of her car and was clinging to the door frame. Water was lapping at the dash of the Taurus by then.

Fortunately, Hoy said, the dispatcher had been able to keep the woman calm and tell her what to do while she waited for help to arrive. And she had followed the dispatcher’s instructions.

“I parked upriver, to try to block the flow of water a little bit, then I jumped in,” Hoy said. “I scooped her up and into the seat of my truck.”

The woman was on her way home from a medical appointment, and she was crying. “She was very grateful and kept hugging me,” Hoy said.

After determining that she was OK, he took her home, then returned to Yamhill to resume his regular duties.

He said he was happy to be able to help. “That’s one of the main reasons I do this job, to help people,” he said. 



Thank you, Officer Hoy. We are lucky to have deputies like you. We appreciate all that you do.

A good story, :)