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Glenn Biddle knew a motorist who had crashed into a ditch filled with water was in big trouble when he saw the car in the freezing temperatures Tuesday, Jan. 7.
He and Jim Fish, another man who had stopped, did the only thing they knew to do: They went in after him.
Biddle and Fish, both of Ash, who happened upon the scene before Brunswick County Emergency Services arrived, saw the silver Dodge Neon nearly submerged in a ditch near Ocean Isle Palms.
Biddle said he and his wife were driving toward Sunset Beach when they decided to take Ocean Isle Beach Road, or “Four Mile Road” as a shortcut.
“I know it was God who put us down that road today,” Biddle said. “There’s not a doubt in my mind that (God) sent us down that road going toward Ocean Isle today.”
Biddle said he noticed a car pulled off on the side of the road and thought it was strange on a day that was so cold.
“When we got closer to the car, we could see they were pulled over trying to help a car that had crashed in the ditch,” he said. “It was a woman and she didn’t know what to do, she was just trying to help the guy in any way possible.”
Biddle said when he pulled up, the vehicle almost under water. That’s when he took matters into his own hands.
“When we got down there, water was up near the top of the steering wheel and the man was slumped over in the passenger side,” he said.
Biddle said Fish is the one who deserves credit for saving the man.
“Jim is a lot younger than I am,” Biddle said. “His youth really helped. I’m almost 60 years old, but Jim ... he jumped right down in there into waist-deep freezing water and saved that man’s life.”
Biddle said it was difficult for the two men to get their footing in the ditch because of the frigid sloppy conditions.
“We got him out of the car, and then it took a little bit of time to drag him up to the top of the hill,” he said. “We’d pull him some, then lose our footing, then pull him some more.”
Shortly after Biddle and Fish pulled the man from the vehicle and onto solid higher ground, an EMS vehicle arrived and relieved them. The man was taken to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C., for treatment. His identity and condition were not available by press time.
The woman who initially pulled over to help the stranded passenger told Biddle the car, which was traveling toward U.S. 17 from Ocean Isle Beach, ran off the road. When the driver tried to steer the car back onto the road, he lost control and flipped.
“He was in a ditch right where the old golf course used to be,” Biddle said.
The stranded motorist wasn’t conscious when Biddle and Fish initially tried to pull him from the water, but when they pulled his head out of the water, he took a big gasp for air, Biddle said.
“It was such a relief to hear him take that breath,” he said. “When Jim went down in there for him, we didn’t know what to expect.”
Biddle said the man thanked him and Fish for their help when he regained consciousness.
“We just kept telling him, ‘You have to hang in there. We’re going to take care of you until someone gets here who can help, but you have to hang in there,’” Biddle said.
Biddle said he felt it was divine intervention that saved the motorist’s life.
“I’m grateful God sent us down that road,” he said. “We got him out of the vehicle and out of that freezing water. All he could really tell us was how cold he was,” he said. “I told my wife I would be fine in the cold, so I took off my big heavy coat and gave it to him so he could warm up some. I don’t know if it helped. I think it did.
“If Jim and I hadn’t been down that road, that man would be dead.”
Biddle said the motorist told everyone around he was in a great deal of pain from his injuries.
“He was in pain, he was freezing cold and he was scared,” Biddle said. “His car would’ve continued to submerge in the water in that ditch if we wouldn’t have stopped. His head was already completely under water. There’s no way he would’ve made it.
“I’m just so thankful God put Jim and I in a situation where we could help.”
Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or email@example.com.