Florida deputy, resident ‘lucky to be alive’ after being swept into drain pipe during flood: Sheriff

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(ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla.) — A Florida deputy and a resident are both “lucky to be alive” after they were sucked into a drainage pipe by flood water during a torrential downpour, according to Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons.

Escambia County Deputy William Hollingsworth was on patrol Friday when he spotted a motorist who was stranded after getting caught in rising water, the sheriff said.

“At one point, Deputy Hollingsworth exited his patrol car to approach a citizen who was trapped in these rising waters,” the sheriff said. “As he approached, Deputy Hollingsworth witnessed the citizen go underwater and rushed to his aid without regard for his own safety.”

The motorist and Hollingsworth were “sucked into a drainage pipe” and traveled nearly 100 feet underwater for approximately 30 seconds under Highway 98, which is a four-lane roadway, before emerging on the other side of the road, Simmons said.

In the video, Hollingsworth can be seen and heard catching his breath, assisting the motorist and expressing shock about what just happened to them both.

“Can you […] believe what happened to us,” Hollingsworth said, using an expletive for emphasis, the video shows.

Later in the video, the motorist exclaims “I almost died” as he tries to catch his breath.

The deputy and the resident were seen on the body camera footage seemingly unharmed in the wake of the incident.

“Thank you, man, for being there when I [came]out,” the motorist told Hollingsworth, video shows. “When I came out you were right behind me.”

The deputy’s action “is an example of the exceptional courage displayed by the men and women of law enforcement every day,” the sheriff said.

Escambia County is in the Florida Panhandle, which has been impacted by severe weather.

Parts of the South have been slammed with severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in recent days.

A tornado struck Pensacola, Florida, killing one person after a tree fell on their home on Friday, according to Escambia County Fire Rescue.

Unrelenting rounds of severe thunderstorms continued to hammer parts of the South this weekend, with forecasts showing thunderstorms likely to touch down from Arkansas to the Florida Panhandle from Sunday afternoon through the evening.

The severe weather threat will linger across parts of the northern Gulf Coast region on Monday, focusing from the Mississippi coast and eastward across the Florida Panhandle, including cities such as Mobile, Alabama, and Tallahassee, Florida.

ABC News’ Julia Jacobo and Daniel Peck contributed to this report.

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