Watch: Fla. deputy and driver get swept into pipe, travel 100 ft. under road, BWC video shows

A Florida sheriff’s deputy and motorist are “lucky to be alive” after being sucked into a flooded drainage pipe and pulled under a four-lane highway

By Mark Price
The Charlotte Observer

PENSACOLA, Fla. — A Florida sheriff’s deputy and motorist are “lucky to be alive” after being sucked into a flooded drainage pipe and pulled under a four-lane highway, according to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

The terrifying ordeal was recorded by the deputy’s body camera and shows the pair reemerged gasping for air on the other side of U.S. 98 near Pensacola.

It happened around 1:40 a.m. on Friday, June 16, as Deputy William Hollingsworth was helping drivers escape “rapidly rising waters,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

“At one point, Deputy Hollingsworth exited his patrol car to approach a citizen who was trapped in these rising waters. As he approached, Deputy Hollingsworth witnessed the citizen go underwater and rushed to his aid,” according to the sheriff’s office.

“Both the citizen and Deputy Hollingsworth were sucked into a drainage pipe and were swept underneath the four-lane roadway of (Highway) 98. They were submerged for approximately 30 seconds and traveled nearly 100 feet underwater. They eventually resurfaced on the other end of the roadway — lucky to be alive.”

Footage shared on YouTube shows it was pouring rain and the road was covered with flood waters when Hollingsworth stepped out of his patrol car. He was sucked into the pipe within 20 seconds.

Only darkness is seen for about 30 seconds in the video, accompanied by the sounds or roaring water and gurgling.

Hollingsworth is then heard calling for the other man and shouting, “I got you.”

“Can you believe what just happened to us,” someone is heard saying. “I’ve never held my breath like that in my life.”

The video ends with the two men sitting in Hollingsworth’s patrol car, as they wait on an ambulance to examine the driver.

Sheriff’s office officials did not report any injuries were suffered by the men.

Some Youtube commenters noted the men endured the stuff of nightmares.

“I just cried my eyes out. That was incredible! They way they hugged and talked to each other when they surfaced. Humanity isn’t so bad all the time,” Cambre Gayle Roberts wrote on the sheriff’s office Facebook page.

“It is a miracle that they both survived that ordeal. Culverts become bottle necks that increase the velocity of the water if under sized. ... That had to be the most terrifying thirty seconds of their lives,” David Van Damme wrote.

Pensacola is about 360 miles west of Jacksonville.

©2023 The Charlotte Observer.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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