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Brave Officer Saves Teen From Flooded River

1:15 AM, Feb 21, 2013   |    comments
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West Columbia, SC (WLTX) -This Friday those officers will be honored by the city for their heroic rescue on the flooded Congaree river last month.

"We were having a good time until we went past the first bridge on the river," said 16 year old Ryan Sinnott.

Last month, high school friends, Ryan Sinnott, Michael Maddox and Ryan Walewski turned a day out of school into an evening kayaking on the Congaree River. Because the water was so calm, they decided to take off their life jackets.

"From there it just all went bad," said 17 year old Ryan Walewski.

Little did they know, from the early rain and water being released from the Lake Murray Damn, that calm day turned into a nightmare they'll never forget.

"There were a bunch of rapids we all flipped out," said 17 year old Michael Maddox.

"It was just like a bad day," said Walewski.

All three boys fell out of their kayaks. Sinnott and Walewski were able to get to a nearby tree and hold on while park rangers called West Columbia officers to the scene, but for Maddox he was stranded in the middle of the river.

"I was completely away from so I was freaking out," said Maddox.

"Most of the time we keep our feet dry," said West Columbia Officer Art Seboe.

This wasn't one of those times, Seboe and four other officers arrived on the scene. Four officers helped the two boys that were holding on to the tree.

"I saw a kayak floating this way," said Seboe.

Maddox was still in the raging river, now clinging to his kayak. Officer Seboe was the only person left to help save him.

"I knew that he was not going to make it much far. It is either now or never."

Without hesitating Seboe says he took off his utility belt and jumped into the water.

An officer whose job is to protect and serve, who barely knows how to swim was in water up to his neck, battled the currents with one goal in mind.

"I just couldn't let him go by."

Seboe was finally able to pull Maddox to safety.

"I was completely exhausted, I could not have made it out of the river without their help," said Maddox.

For Seboe he says helping people is why he became an officer.

"I don't look for attention or special recognition," said Seboe.

But for Maddox and the other guys they see Seboe as a hero.

"I don't want them to think I am some sort of super guy, I am just a guy."

Just a guy who Maddox says saved his life.

"We are definitely thankful," said Maddox.

Seboe and the other officers will be honored at a banquet Friday with a resolution from the City of West Columbia.



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