RIDGEVILLE, SC – On Monday, an incredibly dramatic scene unfolded during a live News 2 broadcast, as a pastor from a church in Summerville walked into the flood waters surrounding a Ridgeville cemetery and pushed an unearthed vault and casket to the side of the road.
Tonight, News 2 spoke with the family members of the deceased husband and wife whose caskets floated away in the floods.
Wayne Reeves is a pastor at New Life Ministries in Summerville, and on Monday, on live TV, the Lowcountry watched as Reverend Reeves waded through water to retrieve the vault of a woman who was buried back in May.
Reeves and another bystander pushed the casket out of the floodwaters and towards the side of Highway 61.
News 2 reporter, Matt Alba, asked Reeves, “Why are you going in to get it?” Reeves replied, “That’s somebody’s family out there. This family is suffering. They had their family out there popping up out of the ground and I think it’s the human thing to do.” News 2 asked, “So you’re going in right now right?” Reeves said, “This second!” Reeves then walked over 200 yards through the water, over to where the caskets had floated.
“This family doesn’t want to sit out on the edge of the road all night long watching their family members bob in and the water out there, that’s just not who we are,” said Reeves. “If that was my mama or my dad, I would walk through hell or high water…and today it happened to be high water.”
Family of the deceased and church members watched from roadway with mixed feeling. Some said they felt feelings of disbelief and relief at the same time.
Cousin of the deceased, Irlean Thompson, told News 2, “I just said, ‘Lord protect him,’ because I know there can be snakes out there or what have you. With the body being out there so long and the water has been rising since Sunday, we just said, ‘Lord cover him,’ and you know he wasn’t afraid. God sent him out there. She was actually my cousin.”
Dorchester County Sheriff’s Deputies retrieved a second casket from the flooded scene soon after.
Family members say the two vaults belonged to a husband and wife.
After climbing out of the flood waters, Reeves said, “I’m going to go home and take a hot bath and wash off with a little bleach and it will take care of that, but this family is already hurt. They’re already hurt enough and I don’t want them to hurt anymore.”
The cemetery at Canaan United Methodist Church had been flooded ever since it began raining last week. Authorities from Dorchester County say they’re going to assess all of the flood damage when the water recedes sometime this week.
On Monday night we spoke with the family of the deceased and they told us the Dorchester County Coroner removed both of the vaults from the water and they are trying to find a place to keep them until the water recedes.
Family members say authorities will then bury the vaults back where they were originally laid to rest.