Dramatic bodycam video shows a Florida deputy being sucked underwater while rescuing a stranded driver on a flooded highway. Both are "lucky to be alive," said Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons.
Deputy William Hollingsworth had been attempting to rescue a man caught up in floodwaters early Friday morning. After the deputy approached the man, they both got swept away and were submerged for 30 seconds.
They eventually resurfaced on the other end of the road — approximately 100 feet away. Video released by law enforcement on Facebook showed the touching interaction between Hollingsworth and the driver, identified on camera as "David."
"You okay, buddy? Can you believe what just happened to us?" the deputy said.
He told the man to breathe and the two began to console each other.
"I almost died," the man said, before he began sobbing. "Oh my God. Lord, I've been saved."
The footage showed both the deputy and David explaining to first responders what had happened.
"Thanks for, like, being there," he said to the deputy. "When I came up, you were right behind me."
"That's an experience for life — and I appreciate you, man," he said as they waited for an ambulance.
Pensacola had been hit by thunderstorms that dumped more than 12 inches of rain overnight on Friday, according to the National Weather Service. On Friday morning, officials announced a flash flood emergency, which was described as "exceedingly rare" but a "severe threat to human life."
Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather-related hazard, according to the National Weather Service. Officials warn when there is flooding, people should avoid driving into water, since moving water can quickly sweep a vehicle away and the road could have been damaged under the flooding, and to avoid routes that typically flood.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. But above all, many of these deaths are preventable, according to the National Weather Service.
Simmons called Hollingsworth's rescue an example of "the exceptional courage" displayed by law enforcement every day.
Many Facebook users agreed and praised the deputy for risking his life.
"This is an outstanding show of courage," one user commented. "From one law enforcement officer to another; you are the example of what protect and serve means … I salute you."
"Hollingsworth … you are a exceptional courageous brave officer going above and beyond to protect us, another user posted. "You are a true Hero."
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