FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) — Will Marlin said his brother Tyler and their friend Anthony Contreras were just taking a shortcut to drop him off at school when the truck they were in got stuck in Sweetwater Creek.
All three had to be rescued Monday after rainwater caused the creek to rise and overflow its banks.
It was a day of steady downpour as the rainfall broke a previous record, and caused flash floods in Lauderdale and Colbert counties.
Marlin, 14, and his brother and friend, both 16, first called another friend to help get them out of Sweetwater Creek. But when the friend got there, they realized it was going to take the fire department and police to get them out of the situation.
Florence police officer Art Stephenson made the attempt.
"He went in and grabbed one of them by the belt and a Florence fireman was holding onto him, to make sure he got pulled out because the water was raging," Florence police Capt. Rolando Bogran said.
Will Marlin jumped onto what he thought was the west bank of the creek and was told by rescue personnel to try and make his way out as police were coming down to help.
"He got onto a little island and couldn't get across the creek and police couldn't find a way out," Florence Fire Battalion Chief Keith McDaniel said.
Firefighters used an inflatable boat to cross the water and bring him to safety.
"It really could have been a lot worse than it was," McDaniel said. "It's dangerous in that swift water like that. They are three lucky young men."
Will Marlin said the teens had taken that shortcut before and didn't think about the creek being so high.
"I glad everyone is OK," Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler said. "I'm also very proud of the efforts of Art and the efforts of the members of the Fire Department.
"The risk of danger was there throughout the entire situation but they all worked together and everything turned out OK."
Brian Carcione, of the National Weather Service office in Huntsville, said Monday's rainfall caused "one of the stealthiest flash flood events we've had in a while." He said official rainfall of 2.74 inches was recorded at the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport in Muscle Shoals, which broke a record set in 1992 when recorded rainfall for the day was 2.01 inches.
Forecasters said as much as 7 inches of rain could fall in the Tennessee Valley before the storms move out Tuesday.
The teens who were stranded at the creek said they had been stuck there since around 7:30 Monday morning. Officials at 911 called firefighters just before 2 p.m.
"When we started across the creek, the water wasn't up that high, it wasn't even past the tires," Will Marlin said. "But the truck got hung on something, so we got out and had to jack it up to try and get it loose."
The truck, a Chevrolet 1500, was headed west but when the boys jacked up the truck, the water was so swift it turned the truck north.
Emergency personnel said when they got to the creek the boys were on the hood of the truck. When the hood started to submerge they had the boys move to the top of the truck.
Will Marlin jumped to shore and police threw a small disc buoy in an effort to pull the boys to shore.
"Everyone did their part and this turned out about as good as it could," Florence Fire Chief Charlie Cochran said.
Carcione said the heaviest rainfall should move out of the area Tuesday.
That cold front is expected to bring temperatures more in keeping with the time of year. Daytime temperatures will be in the low to mid 70s, with the nights cooling into the 40s, Carcione said.
Tyler said he hopes the heavy rains that resulted in the rescue situation will be a lesson to the public.
"Hopefully, this will teach people in the future don't try to cross flooded creeks or roadways," Tyler said. "It's just not worth the risk."
Will Marlin said he's learned his lesson and from now on they will be going another direction to school.