MCKINNEY, Texas — Robert Smith of McKinney looks to a peculiar place for a source of strength.
Smith visits a tree along the banks of a creek along Creek Trail Bridge next to Town Lake Park. The place often floods when it rains a lot. One late night on September 21, he was coming home from Dallas. He said it was so dark out that he didn't know he driven into flood waters. He said the road was never closed off.
"It's a really surreal experience floating away in a flood on the roof of your car and not knowing what's about to happen," he said.
What did happen is nearly unbelievable. Surfing the roof of his car Robert jumped onto a small tree. He held that spot for nine hours from midnight to the start of daylight. "He was standing a foot above water holding on for dear life...on what looked like twigs," said Jack Piontkowsky of the McKinney Fire Department.
Robert held one position the entire time. He told WFAA that his back was to the rain and he had to deal with spiders and ants and poison ivy, on top of the fast moving water below him. "All the bug bites and just pain and discomfort that kept me awake and kept me alert," Robert said.
It was the McKinney Fire Department's Swift Water Rescue Team that saved him that night. Robert told WFAA that he's also thankful to the two rescuers who braved swift waters to help him. He's also thankful to the person who first spotted him in the early morning hours and alerted the fire department. He's hoping that person comes forward so he can meet them. "I'm very fortunate I had those people looking out for me," he said.
There's a reason Robert Smith comes back to the banks of this creek. He said this life event put so much in perspective for him. "The tree is source of strength for me," he said.