BAMBERG -- A disabled veteran and Denmark Technical College student majoring in child development wasn't confident of his swimming skills, but that didn't stop him from going into the water to help rescue a woman and her two children after the car they were in plunged into a canal near Bamberg on Monday.
Jorge Brooks said he never imagined he would be assisting with saving someone’s life outside of the military. Brooks was on his way to the Greater Faith Baptist Church Child Development Center for his class clinical at approximately 8 a.m. on Feb. 13. As he checked his rear-view window, he saw what appeared to be a car “flying across the road,” he said.
At the time, Brooks didn’t realize that 27-year-old Carolyn Sort of Orangeburg had lost control of her 2008 Toyota, which plunged into the canal located between the U.S. 301 northbound and southbound lanes at the Bamberg/Orangeburg county line.
Lance Cpl. Judd Jones, S.C. Highway Patrol spokesman, said Sort was traveling north on U.S. 301 at approximately 8 a.m. and was driving too fast for conditions when she went across the lane and ended up in the water with her two children, ages 9 and 10, who were passengers in the vehicle.
Brooks recounted his involvement in the rescue.
“I had to drive up and turn back around to get back to the car. When I got back, the mother was yelling, 'Help! Help! Please help me!'" he said.
Because of his disability, Brooks said he was nervous about his swimming skills and wasn’t sure how deep the water was.
“Before I went in to help, I called 911. Some others came on the scene, too. They were also calling for help," he said.
Brooks, who has three young daughters of his own, said he made the decision to go into the water to try to rescue the children, who were frantically crying.
“I was steadily sinking, but I just did what I had to do," he said.
The U.S. Army veteran said the children were sobbing, scared, cold and wet. At some point, another motorist arrived and assisted him, he said.
Brooks, who had actually seen the car hydroplane into the water, said the entire incident seems like a dream to him.
“I can’t believe I was involved in something like this. I feel like a nervous wreck,” he said.
Brooks' wife, Renea, said she is very proud of her husband for trusting in God and helping rescue the children and their mother.
Jones said Sort and her children, who were wearing seat belts, received minor injuries.
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