January 15, 2016


Three Florence County Sheriff’s Office deputies received the coveted Medal of Valor from the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association at its 2016 Medal of Valor Awards Banquet held on Thursday, January 14, 2016 in Columbia, SC. FCSO Chief Deputy Glenn Kirby, Lt. Jeff Johnson and Corporal Chad Reid received the award for the swift water rescue of a motorist on Old River Road.

On Sunday, October 4, 2015, as Florence County and other parts of the State were experiencing historic and devastating flooding, Florence County Council had declared the entire county to be under a state of emergency, imposed a curfew and ordered the mandatory evacuation of certain areas of the County. All Florence County Sheriff’s Office personnel were called to assist citizens in any way possible. Streams, rivers and low lying areas were overwhelmed with water, and large portions of major highways and bridges were damaged. Some roads were entirely washed away. As water covered many roads, motorists were unable to appreciate the depth of the water or the damage which had occurred to the roadway until it was too late to turn around.

In the mid-afternoon hours of that day, a call went out to all Florence County emergency services personnel that a large stretch of Old River Road, a major rural thoroughfare in Florence County had been washed away along with a mini-van. Two occupants of the mini-van had been rescued from the edge of the embankment, but an elderly man still remained inside. The flood waters had washed the vehicle approximately 70 yards into the swamp and Fire/Rescue and EMS units on scene were unable to reach the vehicle with available equipment. A military rescue helicopter was called and enroute from Columbia, but was still hours away when Chief Deputy Kirby, Lt. Johnson and Cpl. Reid arrived at the scene. Because the flood waters were rising and the mini-van was being carried further away, these deputies determined that the survival of the man, then standing on the roof of the vehicle was hanging in the balance and they could not wait on the rescue helicopter.

With an aluminum boat, life jackets and ropes they waded into the rushing water, knowing that if the remainder of the roadway gave way, they would all be washed away. Maneuvering the boat toward the mini-van through the rushing water, the three were eventually able to rescue the man from the vehicle and bring him to safety. Moments later, a large portion of the remaining roadway gave way and rushed down stream submerging the mini-van.

But for the selfless acts of Chief Kirby, Lt. Johnson and Cpl. Reid voluntarily placing themselves in harm’s way, in all probability the remaining occupant of the mini-van would have been swept away when the roadway came crashing downstream.

“These dedicated officers displayed incredible courage in the face of clear danger to themselves and others,” Sheriff Kenney Boone stated. “Their valor that day exemplifies everything we stand for as law enforcement officers.

The award was presented to Chief Kirby, Lt. Johnson and Cpl. Reid by Florence County Sheriff Boone, who also serves as President of the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association.

Major Michael M. Nunn
General Counsel/P.I.O.