PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — For the first time, the deputy who got sucked into a storm drain while saving a man during Florida floods is speaking about the life-changing experience.
Escambia County Deputy William Hollingsworth was working the overnight shift from Thursday, June 15 into Friday morning. After hours of heavy rain, the water was rising. At 1:45 a.m., Deputy Hollingsworth got out to help a man stuck on a flooded highway.
“Fearing the worst, I went in to save him and found out that the reason he had disappeared is because he had been sucked into a drain pipe,” Hollingsworth said.
Deputy Hollingsworth and the man were in the pipe underwater, under Highway 98, for about 30 seconds. Hollingsworth said it felt like forever.
“I was feet first, face down, and it spit me out and I was able to get some air,” Hollingsworth said. “I was able to find David and make sure he was okay then radioed for help.”
Both men emerged in disbelief.
“Can you believe what just happened to us?” Hollingsworth said to David after they made it to the other side of the road. “You okay, buddy? Can you believe what happened to us? Oh, just breathe… just breathe… Oh my God… Thank you, Jesus.”
Hollingsworth described his feelings as “disbelief, relief” and “just gratitude to God that he kept us safe.”
That night was his last shift before a scheduled vacation to Orlando with his wife and three kids. It was a special weekend for them.
“It was probably the sweetest Father’s Day I’ve ever had,” he said.
The body camera video has gone viral online and has been viewed millions of times.
“It has been nothing but love and support and concern since it happened, and I just want to thank everyone for all the kind words,” Hollingsworth said.
He said this is why he decided to become a law enforcement officer seven years ago. He said it’s about helping others and being ready for anything.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” Hollingsworth said. “You never know how you’re going to react in any situation. Going forward, I’m just going to do the same thing I’ve always done which is try to help others.”