The floodwaters that took the wife, daughter and niece of the leader of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma almost caught the chairman and two of his grandsons.
Shane Montgomery, grandson of Billy and Dorita Horse, said he, his cousin and Chairman Horse were ahead of his grandmother’s Dodge Caravan in their much larger GMC Sierra pickup when the water became too deep to continue.
Montgomery said the three got out of the cab and climbed into the back and tried to signal the van carrying the three women to back up. But the rising waters caught the van and washed the vehicle from the road.
“It was like the deepest part. They hit that part and the van just went,” Montgomery said. “I wanted to jump in, me and my cousin. But my grandpa said there was nothing we could do, that current was too strong. He said there was nothing we could do. We ain’t got no rope, we ain’t got nothing. No lights.”
Montgomery said he got back into the pickup, which had a higher clearance than the van had, and drove out of the water.
“I hopped in and there was water filling it. I tried to start it and it started and we took off,” Montgomery said. “The part where they went off, it was over the headlights of the truck. I was punchin’ it and we were only going three miles an hour.”
He said once they reached dry ground they attempted to find the van from another vantage point, but it had disappeared in the swirling water. Officials say Dorita Horse, 77; Helen Horse, 34; and Rose Saddleblanket, 17, all drowned in the accident, which occurred near Carnegie in Caddo County.
State emergency officials say the death toll from the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin stands currently at six. In addition to the three, other deaths include: a man found in his vehicle near Omega in Kingfisher County, a woman found in her storm cellar in Fort Cobb, and a woman found in her vehicle in Seminole. The victims were recovered Sunday and the cause of death on all is drowning, state officials report. – Ben Fenwick