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Bridge collapse rescue

This iconic photo from October's flooding shows a truck that fell into the water when the roadway collapsed at Polin’s Bridge near Santee State Park. No one was injured.

Lambert Narlock lost his mother earlier this year. But she was still with him when he needed her.

At 11 a.m. Sunday, Narlock was riding down Cleveland Street when he noticed something wrong as he crossed Polin’s Bridge near Santee State Park.

A group of people were gathered on the bridge, photographing the rushing water. But it was coming out of three spots instead of the normal two, he said.

“I was like, ‘Man, that doesn’t look right,’” Narlock said.

The Elloree volunteer firefighter decided to check out the bridge and noticed about 20 feet of the bridge’s foundation was gone. About 10 feet were left.

“I said ‘Off the bridge, everybody. I’m shutting it down,’” Narlock said. It took him four or five minutes to get everyone off the bridge.

“It went bonkers. You could hear things moving. You could feel the bridge moving,” Narlock said.

Meanwhile, a man who parked on the bridge started to move his truck.

“He was looking at the water going ‘Holy cow!’ He was there less than two minutes and it started going crazy,” Narlock said.

As the man started to move his truck, the bridge began to collapse. Narlock grabbed the man’s hand to help him out.

That’s when Narlock found himself plunging into the rushing water.

“I went down about 12 feet and I had to figure out which way was up,” Narlock said.

The rushing water tried to take him. And he saw his mother.

Narlock grabbed a part of the collapsed bridge and pulled himself up.

“That’s the first thing I saw,” Narlock said. “I was like, ‘Thanks, mom. You have my back.’”

Meanwhile, the driver climbed on top of his truck and off the bridge before the entire vehicle fell into the gap.

Both are OK.

Narlock urges everyone to be cautious.

“The power of all that water eroding the shore was unbelievable,” he said

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5570.


Managing Editor

Gene Crider is an Orangeburg native. He has been reporting since 1992. Please contact him with story ideas at or 803-533-5570.

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