Fort Worth

Video, 911 tapes released from Tarrant County deputy’s attempted flood rescue

The call to dispatch was urgent.

“Expedite, expedite,” the out-of-breath voice says on the 911 tape released Tuesday. “We've got a deputy here who’s in the water.”

The deputy was Krystal Salazar, 26, who waded into Deer Creek waters that gushed as high as 5 feet above Oak Grove Road early Friday morning.

Salazar was trying to save Zenola Jenkins, 76, who was stuck in her car.

Jenkins made contact with her son-in-law, who called 911, but she was eventually swept away. Her body was found inside her four-door Mazda sedan Monday, about a mile downstream from the Oak Grove bridge.

Salazar, who responded to a 911 call for Jenkins about 1 a.m., was swept away, too, but grabbed a tree limb and hung on for about two hours before she was rescued by Fort Worth firefighters.

“She couldn’t wait for dive boats,” said Terry Grisham, a sheriff’s department spokesman. “She felt the situation was too dire.”

Salazar is expected to return to work next week on her normal patrol shift. Physically, she’s fine, Grisham said. But the rescue attempt and Jenkins’ death left her shaken.

“She said [Tuesday] she’s doing better than yesterday,” Grisham said. “And that’s the plan, to try get a little better hour by hour.”

Sheriff Dee Anderson issued a statement about the incident on Tuesday, denouncing “the ugly side of social media” and citing one “moronic person” who suggested the deputy tried to save Jenkins to “bring attention to herself.”

In part, Anderson wrote:

“Krystal Salazar is a young deputy with our agency. I am asked many times if the ‘new’ generation of law enforcement coming up will have the same dedication, the same sense of duty, as did the last generation. I can only tell you that Deputy Salazar, without hesitation or second thought, risked her life to try to save that of another, complete stranger.

“She knew only that someone needed help and jumped into action, with no regard for her own safety. That action is the most we can ever ask of anyone, to put your life on the line to save another. There is no greater service one can give to mankind beyond that.”

Also Tuesday the department released dashcam video from Salazar’s car that shows her shows wading into the water toward Jenkins’ car. As Salazar gets closer, the water gets deeper. Salazar then disappears from the picture.

Dale Rhodes, Jenkins’ son-in-law, trailed Salazar into the water, and clung to a guardrail once the water reached his chest. The dashcam video also shows Rhodes being rescued by Tarrant County Deputy John Rodriguez.

Ryan Osborne: 817-390-7684, @RyanOsborneFWST

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