KFDM: Park Ranger recognized as hero in Kountze
SOUTHEAST TEXAS — Congressman Brian Babin presented a certificate of recognition to Park Ranger Michael Hughes Friday at the Big Thicket Visitor's Center.
Hughes put his life on the line, rescuing several victims in the Tyler County flooding in May of 2016.
"The water was just rising so fast. It went literally from four and five feet to 12 and 14 feet in under 15 minutes on some of these houses," Hughes said.
Hughes credits his coworkers, who are more like family, for making it possible to save so many.
"So we got an air boat and got an 84 year old and a wheelchair out of a house. She was on an 11 foot balcony and I pulled up to the balcony to get her and the wheelchair," Hughes said.
Hughes says rescuers saved over a dozen victims during the flooding.
"Another lady that was in her late 70's... I believe she was battling the last stages of cancer with emphysema she couldn't even walk. Got her out," Hughes said.
Park rangers also managed to rescue someone who was underwater and trapped inside their vehicle.
Today, Babin says Hughes is a role model.
"I think Mike is a shiny example of what you can be. The courage and motivation that put him there to enable him to make a rescue like this and to achieve and receive this award today," Babin said.
Hughes says he'll never forget the rescues. He is thankful he was able to save lives.
"That is what life is about its your family. If I can send somebody back to their family after something like that... a wonderful feeling," Hughes said.
Hughes also received a Valor Award in Washington D.C. last month from the U.S. Department of the Interior for outstanding performance.