Backwater Gamblers Boat Driver Helps With River Rescue - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Backwater Gamblers Boat Driver Helps With River Rescue

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QCA first responders say a professional boat driver for a competitive water skiing team was crucial to Sunday's river rescue.

"We hopped in the boat with some other fire department people and went down to the dam to see what we could do." Brint Burrill has been navigating the Rock River for more than 30 years, driving a boat typically used to pull skiers. Without his boat and knowledge of the river, the rescue on the Rock may never have happened.

"It was Sunday evening when they do their shows out there and the boat was in the water at that time," said Rock Island Fire Chief, Jim Fobert. That's when fire crews and other first responders got the idea to ask the "Backwater" boater for help.

"With the experience we have driving the boat," Burrill said, "I can put it right where you want me to put it." And he did. But Burrill still had to blindly maneuver the craft while emergency crews figured out what to do next.

"We couldn't see anything over the dam at all. No jet skis, no people, nothing," Burrill said. "The whole rescue was done via radio telling us what to do, where to go and that's really how it transpired."

First responders commend Burrill's ability to maneuver the boat like he did.

"When they were at the center of the dam they let the rope go and what happened was that rope floated down over the dam and he was able to catch on to it," Chief Fobert explained that without Burrill's knowledge of the river and the dam, things may have turned out differently.

He's modest but he understands the crucial role he played in Sunday's river rescue.

"After the fact, several hours later, it was kind of significant to the fact that we actually saved a guy," Burrill said. "But it's too bad that we didn't get there soon enough so that maybe we could have saved both of them."

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