A heroic water rescue

Published 4:30 pm Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Tropical Storm Michael resulted in devastation and even death in some parts of the U.S., including Virginia, but the Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office and Meherrin Volunteer Fire & Rescue kept the death toll from rising by one more with a heroic water rescue in the eastern part of the county Thursday evening.

“I think the call came in around 5, 5:30 that evening,” Prince Edward County Sheriff Wesley W. Reed recalled.

Someone was stranded in a rural part of the county on Barton Road.

Email newsletter signup

“Meherrin Fire & Rescue along with one of my deputies, they responded over there,” Reed said. “And what had happened, this vehicle was trying to cross the water in the roadway and the water, it swept the car on off the roadway. It had two people that were occupants of the vehicle. One ended up coming out to safety. The other one ended up being caught in the flood.”

The sheriff said the man caught in the flood was holding onto some trees and hollering for help amid rushing water that was probably waist deep or higher at that point.

“It took approximately an hour and a half, two hours for fire and rescue to get to him because the trees were down all the way across the road over on Barton Road,” Reed said. “They ended up having to cut trees out and so forth.”

After the group of personnel overcame these obstacles, they began to execute the rescue operation.

“One of the firemen, he had a flotation device and a rope around him to go over to try to rescue this individual that was in the water, and apparently the rope he had on him had came loose,” Reed said. “That’s when they tied the rope around my deputy, (Chris) Joyner, to go out to assist both of them, and they ended up bringing them back to safety.”

Reed later added, “I give credit to Meherrin Fire & Rescue and to Deputy Chris Joyner. They did an awesome job. Like I said, it took awhile for us to get there to get to him. And I happened to be there to witness all of this.”

There was significant flooding across East Third Street, down South Street and the surrounding area in downtown Farmville, where some drivers and passengers were separated from their cars, but Farmville Police Department Chief A.Q. “Andy” Ellington said these incidents did not end up requiring water rescues.

“One individual tried to drive through deep water in the municipal lot right here behind the police department between South Street and Virginia Street, and he was able to get out of the vehicle and walk over to us with no problem,” Ellington said. “It was probably up to his knees.”

“And then one other occasion was a car stalled out at the intersection of Fourth and South Street in the high water,” he continued, “and those three individuals had gotten over to … a high spot there in the municipal parking lot, again, between South Street and Virginia Street, and they were able to walk back across South Street into the police department parking lot with no problem.”

Reed offered advice that applies to all of these highlighted situations and those like them that may come in the future.

“We just ask that when they see rising waters on roadways, please don’t try to drive across it, because you don’t know how deep it is or what’s what,” he said.