MANNING - Three officers with Clarendon County Sheriff's Office received national recognition earlier this week from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund for their efforts in saving the life of a female motorist in 2017.
Shortly after dark on April 30, 2017, a motorist traveling on Hwy. 260 near the intersection of Herring Drive south of Jordan noticed lights from a car submerged in Lake Marion about 75 feet from the shore and called 911.
Maj. Donnie Drose, Cpl. Kevin Wilson and Sgt. Clay Conyers were the first to arrive on the scene.
"I was actually off duty and at home," Drose said Thursday. "My wife asked me if I heard about the car in the water, and it wasn't far from where I live so I took off in my personal car and got there at the same time as Kevin and Clay. I started running, hit the water and they were right behind me."
Drose said because the car was totally submerged they were able to open the car's door.
"I reached in and found her floating against the roof of the car," he added. "I grabbed her by the foot, turned her around and got her out of the car. Clay started doing CPR on her while we were still in the water on the way to the hill."
After getting the woman to the shore, Wilson started CPR while Drose and Conyers returned to the vehicle to check on any additional occupants.
By that time, Daishawn "Curtis" McFadden with Clarendon County Fire Department was on the scene and assisted the deputies with CPR until Clarendon County EMS arrived. EMS transported the woman to McLeod Clarendon, where she survived her experience.
Drose said the woman was extremely lucky that the lights on the car were still on when the motorist drove by.
"If those lights had gone out before anyone saw them, this would have had a different ending, and if we had been a minute or two later getting to her, we wouldn't have had the same outcome," Drose added. "With the car lights still on, we were able to see where the car was and get to her in time."
Drose said the sheriff's office tried to keep the national recognition a surprise.
On Wednesday, Brian Lacey, assistant director of programs for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, presented the awards to Drose, Wilson and Conyers as Sheriff Tim Baxley and other officers with CCSO were present.
"It's a pleasure to bestow these officers with the Memorial Fund's Officer of the Month award for the month of June 2018," Lacey said as he presented the award. "In addition, their stories will be in the next year's annual calendar."
Drose said the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is also the organization that honors fallen officers with The Memorial, two curving, 304-foot-long blue-gray marble walls where the names of more than 21,000 officers who have been killed in the line of duty are listed.
"They are going to fly us to Washington next year for the ceremony," Drose added. "And, the year after that, we'll be in the calendar with a picture and an explanation on what happened. I am excited to be a part of all of this. It's quite an honor."
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