Ottawa senior, pet terrier rescued from car trapped in South Carolina flood
An Ottawa senior says he and his Yorkshire terrier wouldn’t be alive if a South Carolina family did not rescue them from a “helpless” situation when his car was trapped in water as heavy rains pummelled the state, causing historic floods.
South Carolina surveys flood damage as rains taper off
Georg Osterhues, 86, was en route to Florida with his dog Tila when the downpour struck as he was driving through Chester County, S.C., early Sunday morning.
“It came out in buckets, the water from the sky,” he said. “I was stuck there. I couldn’t open the door — and luckily I couldn’t because I would have been flooded away.”
At least an hour passed before he heard a truck rumble by.
‘It came out in buckets, the water from the sky.’
– Georg Osterhues
“I was feeling, of course, terrible. I had my little dog with me,” he said. “I was almost to my neck in water.”
Truck driver Tom Hall told CBC News he spotted a silver sedan pinned next to a fence in the flood, and using branches and trees for support, waded out into the rushing water to see if there was anyone inside.
“I was praying that no one would be in the car because I could tell things were getting worse by the minute. That was a dangerous place to be,” Hall said.
“I finally got close enough and I see this little hand come out, waving out of the window. That was probably one of the worst moments of my life because now I know we got to figure out a way to get this person out of this extremely dangerous situation.”
Ottawa man thanks South Carolina family for rescue2:54
Water ‘up to his neck’
Lacking the proper gear, Hall went home and returned with his wife and two sons.
He said he tried to canoe out to the car wearing four life-jackets, but he gave up when the current pinned him against some trees. He then tried to wade out to the car, using a kayak for support, but a wayward log crashed into the kayak and sent it bouncing into the trees, he said.
“Georg is in the car. The water is now rising. It’s up to his neck. I see a little dog in the background, floating on a suitcase,” Hall said.
‘I was happy to be safe, to be alive.’
– Georg Osterhues
“The only think I could do, at that point — I couldn’t go backwards, I couldn’t go back — I just had to go straight to Georg. I just bounced myself out there.”
Osterhues said his “mind was going wild” as he sat in the car, not knowing if he would make it out alive.
Julie Hall, meanwhile, watched as her husband waded to the car, helped Osterhues get into a life-jacket and pulled him and the dog out through the car window.
“This is the kind of thing they tell you not to do — where one person goes in to save somebody and they go, too. It was super frightening. But you can’t just sit there either and watch somebody drown,” she said.
As her husband’s energy waned, she waded out to help pull Osterhues to safety.
The Halls took Osterhues into their home, covered him up in blankets and — in an example of true southern hospitality — offered him a shot of bourbon.
“I was happy to be safe, to be alive,” Osterhues said. “I was helpless and I got big help. And without that big help I would have lost my life. I am sure of that.”
“We were all just so happy and grateful to be alive,” Tom Hall said.
The historic week-long rain in South Carolina tapered off on Monday. Twelve weather-related deaths in two states were blamed on the vast rainstorm.