Chester County prosecutor Julie Hall’s public service usually is representing the people of South Carolina in court. Sunday she wore a different service badge — rescuer.
Hall helped her Chester-native husband, Tom, and teen sons Brice and Graham rescue an 87-year-old man trapped in a flooded car north of Columbia.
“It was scary, very scary, but there was no way we could wait for help because 911 was so inundated with calls,” Hall said. “I was scared for Tom but we were all worried about the man in the car.”
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It all happened near a small lake that always floods near Exit 24 of Interstate 77 north of Columbia. The Halls live nearby and knowing that the area is flood-prone, went door-to-door to make sure no one was trapped. But off a cut-through road Tom Hall saw a car trapped in a rising creek.
“It was just about submerged,” Tom Hall said.
Inside a hand and arm snaked out and as Julie Hall called 911 and rushed home to get a boat and life jackets. Tom Hall realized he had to get out to try and help the guy. He saw inside it was not just an older man but the man was holding a dog and the water was still rising and the current was fast.
Hall tried a canoe but the current was too rapid. So Hall pushed out using trees and ropes, made his way to the car and hung on before he pulled the man and his dog out the window.
“No way was that man going to die out there,” Tom Hall said.
Finally the family was able to get the man to safety through feet of water by pulling him with the ropes, with Julie Hall holding on to the man, until they could reach higher ground.
The man, named George, is from Canada. He was on his way to Florida and had to get off the Interstate because of the flooding. He took wrong turns and ended up stranded in rising waters. The Halls, doing what people do in a crisis - help - found him.
“He was out there for two hours, cold,” Tom Hall said.
The family finally headed home for some warm tea and a warming shot of bourbon and a hot meal, with George right there with them. He stayed over Sunday night.
“He is just a great person,” Julie Hall said of George.
And yes, Tila, the yorkshire terrier, was rescued and is fine, too.
Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065