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Harvey Hero: Would you risk your life to save a stranger?

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Hundreds, if not thousands, of people were rescued during Tropical Storm Harvey but few like the harrowing rescue of two men who were clinging to life in the raging flood waters of Pine Island Bayou .

Billy Sanford got a chance to thank two of the three men who saved his life.

The last time he saw them he was not able to say because he had come close to drowning in the flood.

Billy Sanford, who was rescued, recalled the rising floodwaters. He was in a vehicle along with an acquaintance Josh Borel at the time of the storm.

"And I was like, man, dude get out of the car right now bro. Like, we ain't gonna make it," Sanford told Borel.

They were swept off the road and under the Pine Island Bayou Bridge in the early morning hours of Aug. 30, 2017 as they were seeking refuge from the flood.

"And when I got to the top, I hit a tree and that tree bust up my ribs up pretty good," Sanford said. "But that's all I had to hold onto. and then Josh came up and I tried to hold on to him, but he got swept away. And just hold on, man."

They held on, but no one could see or hear them until KFDM photographer Drue Barrilleaux and reporter Tom Wright heard their screams. They then found Clark Winslow and Will Jenkins with a boat in tow.

"When we got out of the truck, those guys were screaming bloody murder, a gut check at that point," said rescuer Will Jenkins.

Winslow and Jenkins launched their boat and went after Josh Borel.

"So, we just plowed into the trees," said Winslow. "We physically had to drag the boat through those trees."

They managed to extend a push pole to Borel and told him to grab it.

"Look you're going to have go and grab this push pole. It's the only way. I can't get out there to you," Jenkins told Borel.

They pulled an exhausted Borel onto the boat.

"And the whole time, I remember thinking, how are we going to do this other guy?" Jenkins said, referring to Billy Sanford who was clinging to a tree in the floodwaters.

Not far away, Sanford was struggling to hold on.

"The current was so strong I couldn't even pull my legs up to me and use the tree for any kind of leverage or anything," Sanford said.

With a battered Borel safely on shore, they went after Sanford.

"And I jumped in the boat," said Clint West, who joined the rescue.

"Then we had discussions of what we were going to do about the second guy because we knew the one thing we couldn't do was put that boat in that current," said Winslow.

Winslow is operating the boat. Jenkins is in the middle. West is in the front.

The plan is to throw a weighted cushion.

They plan failed. West said he wasn't able to throw the cushion far enough to reach Sanford.

"The whole time, this guy is screaming in our ears, you know, mister, mister, what about me. You know, please, please, don't let me die," Winslow said.

With their improvised throw line reconfigured, they made a second attempt.

"He just hit the right ebb in the current. It kinda caught and got all the way to the guy. I mean, it was a miracle," Jenkins said.

West said he didn't give up on trying to get the cushion to Sanford.

"It took me a couple of throws to get to him. Actually, I figured out I'd have to it upstream for him to catch it, " said West.

Winslow said when the cushion made it to Sanford, they all yelled at Sanford to grab ahold of it.

"And all three of us at the same time said grab it, you know. And he grabbed it. But as weak as he was as soon as it went around that tree and it gave pressure, him and that floatation device, it just ripped it out of his hands," said Winslow.

Sanford said he just wasn't able to hold on the floatation device.

"That was pretty much about all I had left. Whenever I grabbed hold of it, the water took me so fast, I couldn't hold on to no more. But the amount of slack that was in it, I was drowning," he said.

I mean, we thought we lost him," said Winslow.

Billy sanford let go of the rope and grabbed whatever he could to claw his way back to the surface.

"And then we heard him holler," said Jenkins.

Now it was a repeat of the first rescue, work the boat into the trees, extend the push pole and bring Billy Sanford to safety.

"And we was so happy to get in that boat. When we lifted him out, I mean, he was butt naked. He didn't have any cloths on but a shirt. The current had ripped it all off," said Winslow.

A few weeks later Josh Borel was still recovering, Billy Sanford got to tell his story to his rescuers and say thank you.

"Those guys are amazing, man, they did what they had to do to get out there knowing it's a situation the could cost them their lives," Sanford said.

"There's no way we couldn't do whatever we could do to try to save those guys because, I mean, how do you live with that. It was going to be hard enough living if we lost one of them, dealing with that the rest of your life. How do you look anybody in the eye, not even trying?" said Winslow.

Josh Borel suffered a head wound and a knee injury, but says now he's recovered.

Billy Sanford didn't go to the hospital, but left the area to recover and then returned.

The three rescuers -- Winslow, Jenkins and West -- say they just did what needed to be done.


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