Officer glad to be alive after tree hits patrol car

It happened so fast, Daniel Smith had no time to react.

 

One second he was using his North Augusta Department of Public Safety SUV to block a street and keep other drivers from running into a tree downed by Tropical Storm Irma; the next, his vehicle was hit by a second falling tree and he was trapped.

“I heard it snap and as it was coming down to me. It just happened, and I was OK,” the officer said Wednesday. “I’m grateful to still be alive.”

A wrecker driver who had come to pull a resident’s car out from under the first tree helped Smith get out.

“He moved stuff out of the way and I was able to force the door open,” Smith said. “I just got in another car and went back to work.”

He didn’t know if the SUV was totaled, but it was “heavily damaged,” he said. “That tree was very big.”

Smith, a North Augusta area native who graduated from Midland Valley High School and the University of South Carolina Aiken, was a volunteer firefighter in Bath before becoming a North Augusta firefighter in 2011 and an officer in 2012.

There’s a lesson for everyone in his experience, he said, and it’s don’t go out in a storm.

“People should stay sheltered, so they don’t go out and get hurt,” Smith said.

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