College professor rescued from flood by alert citizen


BARBOURVILLE (AP) — A local man is being praised for his efforts to save a college professor from drowning in floodwaters.

The Mountain Advocate reports that Robert Chandler, of London, was on his way home Tuesday when he tried to drive through high water at an underpass.

Chandler, a biology professor at Union College, says the car began to float, and there was nothing he could do. He says he tried to call 911, but no one answered.

Then, he heard a voice from the highway. It was Sean Trinque, Union College’s cycling coach. He was driving back into town on Highway 25 when the floating car caught his eye.

Trinque jumped the guardrail, made it down the steep slope and dove into the icy floodwaters. By the time the he reached the sinking vehicle, the water was already flowing into the open window.

Trinque says he managed to get Chandler half way out of the window, but he realized the man’s foot was caught. Trinque pushed the man back into the car, loosened his trapped foot, and then pulled him out again.

“He was limp and wasn’t struggling at all, and actually that was a big help,” Trinque said.

The two men made it to shore. Corey Moren, captain of the local Special Operations Response Team, brought Chandler into his van to warm up. Within minutes the rest of the response team, Barbourville police, Knox County emergency management, sheriff’s deputies and a wrecker service had arrived to help.

“By the time we got here, there wasn’t anything left to do, but wait for the tow truck and get the car out of the water,” Moren said. “The young man did all the work.”

Chandler said he is eternally grateful to Trinque.

“He saved my life. I’ll appreciate it forever,” Chandler said.

Trinque said the rescue lasted “30-40 seconds, a minute tops.”

“I’m just glad I could help,” Trinque said.

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