When a water main broke beneath a neighborhood on the northeast side of Indianapolis and flooded the entire area, 72-year-old pastor George Shepard suddenly found himself adrift on the street in his car. Thankfully, help was soon on the way.
Shepard told WTHR that he awoke early on Wednesday (July 19) for a doctor’s appointment and was driving through the neighborhood at around 7 a.m. When he turned one corner, he was shocked shocked to see not only that the street was flooded but also that he was floating toward the deepest part of the pond created by the water main break.
“The water just picked up my car and brought it down,” Shepard said. “I had no control over it. It took me right to the middle of the intersection, and it just floated.”
The water rose to Shepard’s car window, leaving him stranded. Thankfully, Aldo Ramirez Villa, a preteen boy who was in the area, noticed Shepard and went out to help the pastor wade his way to higher ground.
“I was terrified. Because when you don’t have control of a vehicle, it’s terrifying,” Shepard said. “But I was able to, with this young man—if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I really don’t. But he saved my life.”
“He actually helped me out of the automobile,” Shepard said. “I slipped and fell and almost drowned in the water. But to his grace, he helped me out, and I appreciate that.”
Although Villa provided reporters with cell phone footage of the rescue, apparently taken by a family member, he did not remain on the scene to be interviewed and has not sought to take credit for his act of heroism.
The flood took many in the community by surprise, especially since no rain preceded it. Many residents simply looked out the windows of their homes early on Wednesday morning shocked to see the neighborhood partially underwater.
“It’s unbelievable,” Lee Driver, a resident of the area, told FOX 59. “I wasn’t expecting to wake up to a whole lake in the middle of my neighborhood, but can’t go to work right now so…[I’m] just trying to make the best of it the best I can.”
Driver said he woke up around 8:30 a.m. and saw the church next door underwater.