Motorist rescued from Forest Lake flooding: ‘I thought I was going under’

A wall of water created by this weekend’s torrential rains washed a pickup truck into Forest Lake early Sunday, trapping its driver inside and forcing a dramatic rescue.

No one realized anyone was inside the truck until the man reached his wife by cell phone, neighbors said. She then sent out tweets, seeking help, Forest Lake residents said.

A kayaker who learned about the unfolding drama attempted to save the man, before firefighters and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources arrived, launched a boat and cut the man from the truck, neighbors said. The victim was taken to a nearby home, where he was apparently uninjured – but visibly shaken.

DNR spokesman Robert McCullough confirmed that his agency had been involved in the rescue, but did not have any details Sunday night.

The man, who identified himself as Tyson Neil, told The State newspaper Sunday night he was scared and thinking he would not survive. He was in the truck for hours, awaiting help, he said.

“I spent hours yelling my head off,” he said, noting that the water in the truck reached his neck at one point. He was unable to get out because the pressure of the water and debris kept him from opening the door, he said. “I thought I was going under. Initially, I thought it was over.”

Sunday’s rescue, which drew neighbors to watch, occurred in an area where water had overtopped the dam separating a small lake from Forest Lake, just downstream. A road runs across the top of the dam. The truck had initially been parked on the dam, before it was carried into Forest Lake, neighbor Meg Morrison said.

Morrison said she took the man into her house on Forest Lake after the rescue and a neighbor later took him home. Her husband, who is a doctor, checked him out and said he appeared to be in good shape, she said.

“I got him a shirt, we fed him some pasta and gave him some green tea,” said Morrison.

Sandy Roberts, who drove Neil home, said she was glad to help. His wife was overwhelmed that he was safe.

“He was rattled, but it was the greatest thing when we got there,” Roberts said. “She came running out of the house and started crying.”

Sammy Fretwell: 803-771-8837, @sfretwell83