BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A family of missing boaters, including children, were rescued from the Cahaba River over the weekend near Barber Motorsports.
One of the pilots spoke exclusively to WBRC about the mission he called one of the greatest moments of his career.
It happened Saturday just before 7 pm.
The family was enjoying a day of rafting when they got lost. The family fun day quickly turned into a full on search and rescue operation with multiple agencies working together to bring the family home safely.
Video of the rescue shows the family waving their hands and flashing lights hoping to catch the attention of pilots on board Star One, the Jefferson County Sheriff Office’s search and rescue helicopter.
“Within 30 seconds of being on scene we were able to locate them,” said pilot Jerry “Bryan” Griffin, Birmingham Police Department/Tactical Flight Officer.
Bryan Griffin with the Birmingham Police Department and Jesse Adams with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office were the pilots assigned to the mission. However, there are multiple officers who fly with the unit; including, Chief Pilot Jonathan Johnson who has been behind the controls for many of Star One’s missions, according to a press release.
The JCSO had been called in by the Irondale Police Department to help in the search.
All of the agencies worked together.
Griffin and Adams directed the ground crew which included the Rocky Ridge Fire Department to the boaters.
A search and rescue that could’ve taken many hours only lasted two hours, according to a JCSO spokesperson.
“If that helicopter was not equipped with what it is equipped with, we would not have the success we have,” said Griffin.
The eye in the sky, day or night, known for catching those on the run but also finding those who are lost.
“As a law enforcement officer there is no greater feeling,” Griffin added.
Griffin also credits the family for using flashlights and air horns to signal police to their location.
It’s important folks follow safety precautions and prepare ahead of any trip just in case there’s an emergency, Griffin said.
At least one of the children was treated for mild hypothermia symptoms. Everyone is expected to be okay.