Deputies rescue Panola County teen on ATV after he was swept away in flooding

13-year-old rescued in Riderville community, near Carthage

Water Rescue

PANOLA COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas teenager is safely back on dry land after deputies rescued him from some fast-moving water.

It happened Saturday, April 17, along County Road 210 in the Riderville community of Panola County. Kannon Wheeles, 13, was riding his four-wheeler on a flooded road when fast-moving water swept him and the ATV off the road.

The teenager made a brave call to 911.

Dispatcher: “Panola County 911. What is your emergency?”

Wheeles: “I need help. I’m on County Road 210 in Carthage --- Riderville, Texas. I was riding my four-wheeler on a flooded road, and the current took me in a ditch and it died. And I don’t know what to do.”

Dispatcher: “So your four-wheeler is stuck?”

Wheeles: “It’s dead. It’s covered in water and I’m scared.”

On the other end of the phone, dispatchers Staci Benedetti and Katlyn Gillie gathered information and sent deputies to the boy’s location.

“We knew there was a four-wheeler in the water,” said Deputy Quade Davis. “We knew there was a young man in the water. We did not know the water was flowing like it was.”

Davis said the water was flowing like a river, and he quickly noticed a whirlpool.

“And I’m thinking that’s not good, because that means the culverts have been defeated by the amount of water,” he said.

As Davis made his way through the high water, Deputy Jason Gradberg was back on dry land keeping a watchful eye on his partner and keeping dispatchers informed of the situation.

”And if he was going to go down, of course I was going to run in and do whatever I could,” Gradberg said.

Once Davis was close enough to the teenager, he asked him if he was stuck or in a position to move.

”He heard that and said, ‘yeah I can come to you.’ And hopped off the four-wheeler and started walking towards me.”

Avoiding a nearby barbed wire fence and pushing against the fast-moving water, both the deputy and the teenager made it back to dry land without injury.

”I was thankful for them,” said Wheeles. “Because I didn’t know what was going to happen that day.”

The Panola County Sheriff’s Office posted the statement below on their Facebook page:

“This could have ended a lot different, but with the juvenile remaining calm - giving good directions to the location, dispatchers Staci Benedetti and Katlyn Gillie getting all the information and sending Deputies Quade Davis and Jason Gradberg to find the juvenile, this call ended with positive results. A huge thank you to Staci, Katlyn, Quade, Jason and Trooper Joey Pace.”

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