Atlanta Police Officer Rayando Bryan and Atlanta Fire Rescue Department Captain Terrance Simon are being celebrated by colleagues and the community for their swift response in the face of danger.
Officer Bryan, who was on duty at the time, came across a dire scene on Peachtree Street, just near Atlanta’s Public Safety Headquarters, where floodwaters had completely submerged the area.
There, he noticed a vehicle partially submerged, with Captain Simon valiantly attempting to rescue the trapped driver.
“So, initially, when I first saw the car, I was unaware that there was an occupant in there until I heard a person shouting. That’s when I figured out there was somebody in the car,” Bryan reflected.
Captain Simon said the floodwaters had already risen to dangerous levels in the midst of the response.
“We had been out there for a few minutes, and you have water that’s well over four-and-a-half feet, so you have to act quickly,” Captain Simon told FOX 5.
Due to the rising floodwaters, the vehicle was lifted from the ground, rendering its doors immovable. The water was so deep that the vehicle had started to float, and the front end was underwater.
Without hesitation, Officer Bryan waded into the treacherous waters to assist in the rescue operation.
According to police, they were able to move the vehicle to a shallower location to make the rescue.
“The water was actually up to my chest, and we were able to get the car to an area where the water was lower. So that gave us the ability to actually get our footing and mitigate it really fast,” Simon recalled.
Using his baton, Bryan shattered the driver-side window, creating an escape route for the stranded motorist. Together, the police officer and fire captain managed to pull the driver to safety.
Captain Simon recounted the dramatic moment.
“Well, just moments after the window was smashed, I think the primary goal was to just get the citizen out of the vehicle,” Simon explained. “He had already been overwhelmed by water that was inside the vehicle, and he had been in there for well over 12 minutes. And that’s a lot to deal with both physically and mentally.”
The rescued driver, Bernard Johnson, was grateful for the officers’ actions.
“I told them, ‘Thank you for everything, you saved me that day.’ I told him that specifically,” Johnson said.
The severe storm unleashed more than two inches of precipitation within the span of an hour, overwhelming downtown Atlanta, the Atlanta University Center and its surrounding areas.
According to FOX 5, the city experienced a whopping three hours’ worth of rain in just minutes, leading to the flash flooding conditions.
In several areas across Atlanta, water levels surged to five feet, affecting streets and low-lying areas.
Witnesses reported that several vehicles parked near Northside Drive SW and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SW were washed away, eventually coming to a stop at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The storm also significantly impacted multiple students of Clark Atlanta University, flooding their rooms and forcing them to relocate.
Atlanta police noted that the city’s 9-1-1 call center was overwhelmed with weather-related emergency calls during the torrential rain, as the water began to rise rapidly.
In a Facebook post, the Atlanta Police Department commended the pairs’ heroic efforts.
“We are extremely proud of the actions of Atlanta Fire Rescue Captain Terrance Simon and Atlanta Police Officer Rayando Bryan. Their response to this critical incident is yet another example of the commitment our city has made to ensure competent, well-prepared, well-trained first responders are available when needed,” the department wrote.
Downtown Atlanta received two inches of rain in less than two hours, reports say.