FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – The South Carolina Sheriff's Association awarded three Florence County Sheriff's Office (FCSO) deputies with the Medal of Valor at the 2016 Medal of Valor Awards Banquet, on January 14 in Columbia.
The three honored, FCSO Chief Deputy Glenn Kirby, Lt. Jeff Johnson, and Corporal Chad Reid, received the award for the expeditious water rescue of a motorist on Old River Road.
The rescue happened on October 4, during the time when Florence County and many other parts of South Carolina were experiencing historic flooding. Florence County Council had declared a state of emergency for the entire County, imposed a curfew, and made mandatory evacuations of certain parts of the County. The FCSO was asked to help citizens in any way possible.
During this time streams and rivers in Florence County were overwhelmed with water, portions of major highways and bridges had been damaged.
The water on the roads was visible, but some motorists underestimated the depth of the water or amount of damage to the road and would try to drive through it.
Florence County emergency services personnel received a call mid-afternoon that day, in reference to a large stretch of Old River Road that had been washed away along with a mini-van.
The mini-van had been pushed around 70 yards into the swamp by the rising waters. Two occupants in the vehicle were able to escape and had been rescued from the edge of the embankment, but an elderly man was still trapped inside.
Fire Rescue and EMS units on the scene we unable to reach the vehicle with available equipment.
A military helicopter had been called and was enroute to help when Chief Deputy Kirby. Lt. Johnson, and Cpl. Reid arrived to the scene, but it would take several hours for the helicopter to arrive.
Flood waters continued to push the mini-van further away and the deputies had decided waiting on the arrival of the helicopter was not an option.
The deputies waded through the rushing water with an aluminum boat, life jackets, and ropes, all the while knowing if the road collapsed they would all be washed away.
Maneuvering the boat through the rushing water the men were able reach the vehicle and bring the man to safety.
Just moments after the rescue a portion of the remaining road gave way and rushed down stream submerging the mini-van.
"These dedicated officers displayed incredible courage in the face of clear danger to themselves and others. Their valor that day exemplifies everything we stand for as law enforcement officers," said Florence County Sheriff, Kenney Boone.
The award was presented to the deputies by Boone, who also serves as President of the South Carolina Sheriff's Association.