Robert A. Berry attempted to save Cosker F. Pickett from drowning, Columbia, Virginia, December 2, 1934. At night, Pickett, 48, drove his automobile over a bridge across the James River, down an approach to the bridge, and then on a road 22 feet wide in floodwater that extended 700 feet to a hillside. The temperature was 33 degrees. At a point 165 feet from the approach, the motor stalled in water 18 inches deep. Fearing he might get into deep water if he attempted to wade on the road, Pickett remained in the automobile. During the night the water rose until it was four feet deep on the road and six to nine feet deep on rather level adjoining fields. The automobile was in the middle of a current 200 feet wide that crossed the road at a speed of 3 to 4 m.p.h. The next morning Pickett’s predicament was observed by persons on the bridge. A man with a rope around his waist waded 50 feet toward the automobile, the rope being payed out by persons on the approach, but he was scarcely able to maintain footing and returned to the approach. Berry, 21, farmhand, removed his shoes, mounted a horse bareback, held the rein of the bridle in one hand and the end of the rope in the other, and rode from the approach toward the automobile. At a point 20 feet from the automobile the horse was washed from the road, and Berry, losing his hold of the rein and the rope, was washed from the horse 10 feet from the road. The horse then swam toward the hillside. Berry swam and drifted in the current, being affected by the weight of his clothing and the cold water. After swimming and drifting for 1,400 feet, he reached a tree and scrambled onto a fork a foot above the water. Almost an hour later a boat was paddled to him, and he was helped aboard and taken to land. He suffered from exposure and was disabled for two days. Pickett also was rescued by means of a boat.
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