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Long arms of the law help trapped driver
Deputies, with help from bystanders, free man caught in turned-over SUV
deputies 2
Effingham County Sheriffs Office deputies Randy Brown, left, and Terry Gideon helped rescue a man who was trapped inside his sport utility vehicle as it was leaking gas. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

The quick actions of two Effingham County Sheriff’s Office deputies are being credited with saving a man’s life Thursday afternoon.

Deputies Randy Brown and Terry Gideon were the first to arrive at the scene of a three-car crash at Highway 17 at Roebling Road. A man was trapped in his overturned sport utility vehicle, which was leaking gas.

 The two deputies, along with a few bystanders, teamed to turn the SUV upright. Brown and Gideon freed the man and gave him first aid until EMS arrived to treat him.

However, Brown and Gideon both refuse consider themselves heroes.

“No, I do not,” Brown said. “That’s what we do.”

Added Gideon: “It’s just a call of duty. You do what you’re supposed to do, you do what’s right all the time, no matter what. If that had been my child, I’d hope that there was a deputy or a police officer or a bystander somewhere in the world that would help my kid.”

Brown said he was driving a routine patrol along Highway 17 around 4:40 p.m. Thursday. He happened upon on the crash “seconds after it occurred,” according to ECSO spokesman Detective David Ehsanipoor.

Brown checked for injuries and realized the driver of the SUV was trapped. The man, who remained conscious the entire time, said his arm was pinned under the roof of the upside-down vehicle.

“He was in a lot of pain,” brown said. “I knew as long as we could hear him groaning and moaning and talking to us, we were in good shape.”

Gideon “rolled up within a couple of minutes, and we swung into action like we’ve been trained to do,” Brown said. Brown grabbed his fire extinguisher and doused the fuel leaking from the SUV, while Gideon took his medical bag from his patrol car and rendered aid.

“Being that the driver was trapped in the position that he was, the only way to get to him was through the back window of the SUV,” Gideon said. “So I crawled through the window and started to check on him.”

First responders are trained typically not to move people who have been involved in a crash. However, Effingham County Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie said, they didn’t have that luxury in this case.

“They have a gas leak, they have a man with his arm trapped underneath, in a bad situation,” McDuffie said. “What they did by going ahead and acting in this case might have saved that guy’s life.”

Some bystanders began to gather at the scene, and Brown and Gideon enlisted their help. Brown said “three or four” people — whom the ECSO hasn’t been able to identify — helped the deputies turn the car upright, enabling them to get the driver out.

“I’m really proud of working in this county where there are people that will step up like that so quick to help another person, when they’re not involved,” Gideon said. “It’s somebody that they don’t know; it’s a nameless person, a faceless person. They came over, and without really giving any direction, we all got together.”

The SUV driver was airlifted to Memorial Health University Medical Center with serious injuries, and Ehsanipoor said Monday that “he’s improving.” Four other people suffered minor injuries in the wreck.

Brown also was the first deputy on the scene of a fiery crash when a tanker truck collided with a small pick-up on Nov. 21. The pick-up burst into flames, killing three Guyton brothers — ages 18, 16 and 3.

“I think God puts us in certain places at certain times for a certain reason,” Brown said. “With the tanker, there was nothing I could do with that one. This one, I got emergency crews in route. That’s how I’ve been trained.”

Though Brown and Gideon brush off the notion they’re heroes, the sheriff disagrees.

“In my mind, they’re heroes,” McDuffie said. “I think what they did was a tremendous job, and I’m proud of them.”