COLUMBIA, S.C. — Over 15 inches of rain has fallen in many parts of South Carolina over the past several days which has resulted in devastating floods. Dams have broken, basements have been ruined and cars have floated away. Clean water has been shut off to many areas.
George Osterhues, 87, was driving with his dog from Canada to Florida when he became trapped in his car, surrounded by rising water. Unbeknownst to him, the local lake had flooded.
Nearby, the Hall family was going door to door checking on neighbors when they spotted Osterhues trapped car. By this time, he had been trapped for over two hours. Hypothermia was beginning to take effect.
Julie Hall and her husband, Tom, realized they needed to help him immediately. Julie called 911 and gathered life jackets. Tom, knowing that emergency services would take too long to arrive, staged a rescue with his three sons.
“It was scary, very scary, but there was no way we could wait for help because 911 was so inundated with calls,” Julie Hall told the Charlotte Observer. “I was scared for Tom, but we were all worried about the man in the car.”
After a failed canoe attempt, Tom used ropes and trees to reach the car window. When he arrived be found Osterhues clutching his Yorkshire Terrier, Tila.
Tom Hall pleaded with Osterhues to leave the dog because of how dangerous the water was and how difficult it would be to retrieve them, but Osterhues refused to leave without her.
Finally, Tom Hall was able to pull the World War II veteran and Tila out through the window and then Julie Hall and their sons helped lead them back to dry ground.
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“I just knew he wasn’t gonna make it back to the side without somebody helping him,” Julie Hall said.
The Hall family invited Osterhues back to their home to keep dry, warm and fed. After spending the night, he was able to rent a car to finish his journey.
Osterhues said of the Halls, “They are the best. Wonderful.”