LITCHFIELD BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Some good Samaritans, a South Carolina state trooper, and members of Midway Fire Rescue combined to pull a middle-aged man and his dog out of a minivan that was submerged in a pond Sunday in Litchfield Beach near Pawleys Island.
First responders spoke to News13 about the life-saving rescue. They said if it wasn’t for witnesses and good Samaritans, the crash would have likely had a different outcome. The minivan became submerged in a pond at Country Club Drive and Hawthorne Drive in the Litchfield Community.
Troopers said witnesses described the van as going straight into the pond from Hawthorne Drive, where the water is murky and about eight feet deep.
“I was the first one on scene so I just did what my natural instinct was to do — is serve and protect my people of my state,” said Adam Marshall with South Carolina Highway Patrol.
That’s why Marshall jumped in the water. He was a swimmer at St. James High School all four years. Photos show Marshall soaking wet after the rescue.
“The only thing I was thinking about was getting the gentleman and his dog out to safety and saving a life,” Marshall said.
Marshall was joined in the pond by firefighters Thomas Doyle and Steven Vankirk. The entire rescue took nine minutes. Troopers said in total, the man and his dog probably spent about 10 to 15 minutes trapped in the minivan from the time it became submerged to the time the rescue was complete.
“He said that he had found an air pocket inside the vehicle that he put his dog and himself up into,” Vankirk said. “That’s how he managed to stay awake and oriented as long as he did.”
The man was taken to Grand Strand Medical Center in good condition and has since been released.
“We had kind of a general idea of where he was at, so we took tools and started busting out windows in order to get in the car and get ahold of him,” Doyle said.
Vankirk points to good teamwork and proper training as reasons the rescue was successful.
“We do extensive training,” he said. “We train for the calls that don’t happen often for the low to high impact. Low occurrence, high impact. That’s what we train for.”
Sunday is a day at work these men won’t soon forget.
“That’s my number one goal every day when I come out here to patrol is make sure everybody goes home to their family,” Marshall said.
South Carolina Highway Patrol continues to investigate the incident.