A Bulloch County sheriff's deputy hydroplaned Saturday as he responded to a call and ended up in a ditch full of rainwater.
The deputy, whose name was not released, was on Burkhalter Road responding to a citizen complaint about water over the roadway.
Daily downpours for more than two weeks have saturated the ground, and during heavy rainfall, ditches overflow and water runs across low places in the road. The deputy was driving about 40 mph when he rounded a curve, encountered water on the road, and hydroplaned, Bulloch County sheriff's Chief Deputy Jared Akins said.
Photographs of the deputy exiting his car via the window, and of other deputies standing beside the ditched car, have surfaced on Facebook. But the reality of what happened, and could happen to anyone, is far from humorous.
"He was driving far under the speed limit, and I don't know how he could have prevented" the accident, Akins said. He warned motorists to take extreme caution if they must drive in heavy rain and advised them to stay home if possible until the weather clears.
"Even if you think the water (over the road) is not that deep, there is no way to know," he said.
When water is running over a road, residents should call to notify the sheriff's office and Bulloch County Public Safety, he said.
"We will send a deputy and keep close by until the (Bulloch County Correctional Institute work camp) can get it fixed," Akins said.
The deputy was not injured in the accident.
Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn said county road crews are working overtime in efforts to keep dirt roads passable, but daily rains often undo any repair work done. He asks that residents keep in mind the crews are doing as much as possible to keep the county roads clear and safe.
More rain is predicted for the weekend and flooding conditions are likely to continue, he said.
Following a report from Effingham County warning its residents about increased discharge and strong currents in the Savannah and Ogeechee rivers, Wynn advised people to be careful of the Ogeechee in Bulloch and other counties, even when below flood stage.
While conditions are more extreme in Effingham in both rivers, "That's not to say the Ogeechee (elsewhere) is not dangerous," Wynn said Wednesday. "It is high and high water can sweep a boat under trees and overturn it very easily. If you don't know what you are doing, or are not familiar with the river environment, you shouldn't be doing any recreational activities in it."
Some may be tempted to go boating in the swiftly running, swollen river, but it's best to stay ashore, he said.
"It's moving water and the bottom is not visible," Wynn said. "It puts you in danger and ultimately the rescue crews that have to come get you or recover your body. If you are in the river, wear a personal flotation device, and advise someone of your plans."
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.