Columbus Co. deputy helps man who fell in ditch while cleaning debris

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Deputy Sgt. John Cobbs (left) and Phillip Henry Ray (right)

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A deputy sergeant at the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office is being praised after saving an elderly man who fell in a ditch full of water after repairing his mailbox from storm-related debris.

The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office posted about the incident on Facebook today.

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The post said on Tuesday, Deputy Sgt. John Cobbs was on patrol traveling on Waccamaw Shores Road in Lake Waccamaw. He was surveying damage and identifying other public health safety hazards resulting from Hurricane Isaias.

Phillip Henry Ray, 86, was outside his home on Waccamaw Shores, alone, trying to repair his mailbox that was damaged by the storm. Ray had clothing on to protect him from the outside elements, including rain boots. At the same time, Mr. Ray’s neighbor, Bruce Walters, was outside mowing his lawn. Ray completed repairing his mailbox and was preparing to go back inside, when the hand tools he was using fell into a large ditch filled with about 3 feet of water. Ray also fell into this ditch face first. His boots immediately filled with water and he was unable to get up.

Walters saw Ray fall and immediately drove his lawnmower over to help. Sgt. Cobbs also saw Ray fall and immediately stopped his patrol vehicle and rushed to help.

Sgt. Cobbs lifted Ray from the ditch. After making sure he was alright, Walters and Sgt. Cobbs helped Ray back to his home to dry off and change clothes.

The Sheriff’s Office said a person involved contacted Sgt. Cobbs’ supervisor, Lt. Worley, to thank him. Lt. Worley was unaware of the incident. On August 6th, Lt. Worley and Sgt. Cobbs went back to Ray’s house to check on him and make sure he was okay.

Cobbs and Worley met with Ray and his sweet wife.

“She was overcome with emotions as she thanked Sgt. Cobbs for saving her husband. Lt. Worley asked Sgt. Cobbs why he didn’t advise him of the incident. Sgt. Cobbs responded ‘It wasn’t a big deal. It was just the right thing to do. I would have done the same thing even if I wasn’t on duty’.”