Williston officer saves man from drowning

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News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

WILLISTON, S.C. (WRDW) -- A 26-year-old man is recovering after an accident left him trapped underwater and barely conscious inside his truck.

It happened Saturday night off Hwy 113 just outside Williston and Tommy Chambers might not be alive if it weren't for the quick action taken by a Williston police officer.

"He had flipped his truck three times and then he flipped it into the pond," said Anderson Corder as he picked up a shoe near the swamp where his brother almost lost his life 3 days ago.

Tommy Chambers had been driving home down 113 when he over corrected and landed upside down in a swamp taking down trees as he crashed.

Dispatch originally got the call about debris in the roadway, but when the officers got on scene they found a lot more than that.

"You could see the bottom side of the car and the four tires sticking up," said Joey Patsourakos.

He was the 5th officer on the scene.

"I asked them if anybody had looked in the vehicle yet and they said not yet and that's when I told them that I was going in and I just took off all my stuff and went in the water," he said.

The trained scuba diver headed straight for the truck.

"Wasn't anything there and then I came back out and I said no one's in the car and then I started thinking you know I need to look in the backseat," recalled Patsourakos.

So he went back down and he says, "the water was real muddy and the back windows were tinted and I finally at the top edge of the glass I could put my flashlight against the top edge of what was showing and I saw what appeared to be his knee and I saw hair."

Tommy Chambers was barely conscious in the back seat when Patsourakos smashed the window with his mag light and pulled him out.

"He could've died because they said he had about [2-3 inches of] air to breathe," said Chambers brother David Corder.

But Patsourakos says he just did his job.

"I want him to know that what I've done I don't think would be any different than what anyone else would've done," said Patsourakos.

To Tommy's family it doesn't matter what anyone else would've done. It's what Patsourakos did and to them that makes him a hero.

"Not only did he save a family member, he saved a family because I don't know what we would've done if we got a phone call saying my brother wasn't alive anymore," said Anderson. "It would've just destroyed us."

Patsourakos says he has no idea how long Tommy was in that car before he got there.

Tommy's mom says he remembers undoing his seat belt and trying to get out but he couldn't find a way. She said he told her that he had basically given up and accepted the idea that his life would end in that truck.

Tommy was never taken to the hospital. He walked away with a few scrapes and bruises. He is recovering at his grandmothers house.

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