FORT VALLEY -- Seventeen-year-old Ashley Jordan was driving to school on the morning of April 12, excited about the Jones County High prom that night.
On Henderson Road, she pulled over to let a car that was following her too closely pass. The car didn’t have enough room, and Jordan overcorrected, veering over to the other side of the road and down a 40-foot embankment, her car flipping three to four times and landing upside down.
Her windshield shattered, and water flooded the car.
Jordan hung upside down, unable to release her seat belt as the water rose. She heard cars pass by, but no one stopped.
She thought she would die there.
But on Tuesday, Jordan was at the Region Five Emergency Medical Services Council Meeting in Peach County, where her rescuer was honored with a Community Award for Valor.
On April 12, Andy Dobbs, an apprentice carpenter at Chris R. Sheridan and Co., was on his way to work on a project at The Medical Center of Central Georgia. He took a route that he didn’t usually take. On Henderson Road, he noticed skid marks.
“I glanced off the road and saw four tires sticking up,” said Dobbs. He pulled over and saw a car down the hill.
Dobbs thought the accident had happened the night before, and the car would be towed sometime that day. But when he noticed emergency lights flashing under the water, he went to make sure no one was trapped inside.
By then, the water had risen to the top of Jordan’s head. She contorted her body to reach the remaining pocket of air.
She saw her phone float by and picked it up. It still worked, thanks to the waterproof case, but she didn’t have any service. Jordan’s call to her sister finally made it through. Before the call disconnected, Jordan was able to tell her that she had been in an accident.
Her sister called 911 and told police of Jordan’s usual route to school.
Then, “I looked (toward the back of the car) and saw (Dobbs’) feet in the back,” Jordan said.
“Please get me out!” Dobbs recalled her yelling.
He waded into the chest-deep water and opened the trunk of the Jeep Cherokee, a door that had never opened before, said Jordan.
Dobbs pressed the release button of Jordan’s seat belt, and Jordan fell into the water, toward the ceiling of her car.
“He told me to keep calm,” Jordan said. Dobbs grabbed Jordan’s purse and shoes from the car, and “he carried me up the hill,” she said.
By that time, police had arrived.
Dobbs made sure Jordan was OK, and then left. He took a shower and went to work. Later, Jordan’s mom, Sissy, contacted him.
“My life could have gone so wrong that day,” said Sissy Jordan. “It could have gone really wrong had he not noticed her down there.”
She was so thankful, she wrote a letter to Region Five EMS asking the group to honor her daughter’s hero.
Dobbs, quiet and humble, accepted a plaque and a certificate Tuesday. Tom Rogers, a project manager who works with Dobbs, described him as shy, saying he doesn’t like the spotlight.
“I don’t consider myself a hero,” Dobbs said. “I just did what anyone else would have done.”
Everyone else, though, passed by without noticing a young woman was in danger. Because Dobbs was paying attention, Jordan was still able to go to prom the night of her accident.
“I was really sore, but I went,” she said.
Although her only physical injury was a busted elbow, she endured anxiety and nightmares for a while after the accident.
“At night I would wake up, and my heart would be racing,” she said.
It was about one month before she was able to drive again, though she said she was still very scared.
“She’s been really strong through it,” her mom said. “Thank God it didn’t end in tragedy.”
To contact writer Emily Farlow, call 744-4225.