Rescuer vowed to pull women from submerged car or ‘die trying’

Two young women who were rescued from their submerged SUV say they owe their lives to a man whom they now call their personal hero.

Haley Morris was driving her friend, Kate Henry, home from the gym after midnight Wednesday. The usual route was blocked, so Morris took a different road. The women said it was dark and foggy and nearly impossible to see, and their SUV suddenly plunged into the Waccamaw River.

D.J. Nance was fishing near the Wacca Wache Marina on a dock nearby and saw the SUV crash into the water. Nance said that when he saw no movement from the water below, he dove in and swam to the sinking vehicle.

“You have to react,” Nance said. “You don’t want anything like that to happen on your watch. I was here for a reason.”

Morris and Henry said they were unable to open the SUV doors themselves. Nance opened the driver’s side door, yanked Morris out and pulled her to the surface.

“Whenever he grabbed hold of me, I just looked at Kate and she was saying, ‘Please don’t leave me. Please, please don’t leave me,’ and I said, ‘I’m not. I’m not. He’s going to get you out too I promise,” Morris said.

Nance dove back underwater and freed Henry as well.

Once they were freed from the vehicle, Nance dragged the women through the water toward a nearby dock where they rested on solid ground.

“He was laying on the dock, and Haley and I were kind of like patting him and saying, ‘You saved us. You saved us,’” Henry said.

Morris and Henry said they will forever be grateful for their personal hero, and will continue to think of ways to show him their gratitude.

“Without him, we wouldn’t be here,” Henry said. “He really did save our lives.”.

“Even though it was very scary, I’m very thankful,” Morris said. “I don’t want to look at the negative. I look at it as a way for us to restart our life and live life to the fullest. And we’re just one big family now.”

After the rescue, Nance told the women that he was either going to get them safely out of the water or die trying.

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