Police officer praised for part in rescue from burning home

by | June 29, 2017 5:00 am

Last Updated: June 28, 2017 at 4:19 pm



A Cottageville police officer helped a man escape a burning home early Wednesday.

Flames were reported at 980 Adams Road—off Peirce Road, just outside town limits–at about 12:40 a.m.

On-duty Cottageville police Cpl. Gerald Gary Rhode heard the 9-1-1 call and realized he was closer to the scene than Colleton County sheriff’s deputies.

When he arrived, the “residence was fully engulfed in smoke and flames.”

A family of eight, roused by a smoke alarm, had fled the single-story residence, but the oldest man mistakenly believed small children were still inside. He re-entered the house and was overcome by smoke.

The man’s son broke a window, peered inside and spied his father on the floor. He ran back into the burning building as Rhode arrived at the scene. Informed that that a person was trying to escape through a rear window, Rhode ran through dense smoke to the rear of the home.

He saw the older man “fall from the rear window and appeared to be lifeless,” reports said. As the victim’s son climbed from the same window, Rhode grabbed the father under his arms and pulled him away from the smoke and flames to the front of the house.

After assistance by Colleton County Fire- Rescue, the man, who suffered upper-body lacerations and burns, was sent to Colleton County Medical Center and then the Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga.

Rhode suffered minor injuries and declined medical treatment.

According to Police Chief J.D. Cook, “Cpl. Rhode is to be commended. He used excellent judgment during this incident, and assisted in potentially saving the victim’s life.”


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