At 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, Lambert Narlock was riding down Cleveland Street between Elloree and Santee 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.
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. Narlock grabbed a part of the collapsed bridge and pulled himself up.
Meanwhile, the driver climbed on top of his truck and off the bridge before the entire vehicle fell into the gap.
Both men escaped unhurt.