A Loris-area dog named Tuxx proved to truly be man’s best friend Monday when he alerted his owner a family member was in life-threatening danger.
Tuxx’s owner Chris Cooper let the dog outside after getting home from work after 4 p.m. that day, and knew something wasn’t right when he let Tuxx back inside.
“He was barking and fussing at me, wanting me to get up and go to the door,” said Cooper.
When he went outside he threw a ball for Tuxx because he thought the almost two-year-old pit bull mix wanted to play fetch. Cooper said Tuxx got the ball then dropped it and dashed off.
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“I knew something wasn’t right. I knew that wasn’t like him. I know my dog really well, and I knew that wasn’t like him, so I followed him and when I did that’s what we found,” he said of discovering his brother, Jarad Johnson, was trapped.
I knew something wasn’t right. I knew that wasn’t like him. I know my dog really well, and I knew that wasn’t like him, so I followed him and when I did that’s what we found.
Chris Cooper said of discovering his brother was trapped.
The 17-year-old had been using equipment to dig the hole on a patch of private property off Red Bluff Road in the Daisy community where the family has several homes.
He stepped off the machinery he was using and slid into a dark, 10 feet deep hole and was quickly put in a life-threatening emergency as unstable soil caved in and ground water gushed forward, cementing him inside.
Cooper said his brother was stuck for about an hour before he was discovered.
“He said he was hollering. He was praying. He was doing anything he could do. He didn’t know what to do,” said Cooper of his younger brother.
Horry County Fire Rescue crews were called out to the property about 5:49 p.m. to do a risky trench-style rescue of the teen, and soon mutual aid was called in from Horry County Public Works, along with Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach fire departments.
Before long a group of about 50 rescuers had gathered as family and friends stood by, offering support and prayer while crews worked more than five hours to free the endangered teen, using a vacuum truck, pumps, shovels and buckets as the rescuers rotated with one another while digging Johnson out.
“It was terrifying. I mean, it’s unexplainable. There’s nothing you can say to explain it,” said Cooper of the whole ordeal who added he stayed with his brother the entire time.
A medical helicopter was brought in from Whiteville, N.C., and landed in Cooper’s front yard before flying his brother to the hospital for medical evaluation.
“Honestly, I wasn’t even paying it [the helicopter] much attention. I was focusing on what we could do. It was something I hope I never experience again,” he said.
Johnson arrived home from Grand Strand Medical Center about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, and rested at his grandparent’s home nearby, and was doing well despite his brush with death, Cooper said.
He’s doing great. He’s very lucky. He’s very fortunate.
“He’s doing great,” said Cooper. “He’s very lucky. He’s very fortunate.”
Cooper said his brother is experienced with the equipment he was using, and wasn’t sure what type of project Johnson was working on in the yard when he was swallowed by the dangerous hole, buried in mud up to his chest and ground water nearly to his chin, according to HCFR officials.
The family was still reeling from the entire incident on Wednesday afternoon when Johnson returned home, and Cooper said they all felt grateful for the help and support from all the rescuers, family, friends, and neighbors who gathered together to do what they could.
“We want them to know we really appreciate what they did, and all the help and all the support and the prayers that they gave,” said Cooper.
As for Tuxx, he’s going to be even more spoiled than he already is after helping with the rescue, Cooper said.