Columbus Co. deputy credited for saving man’s life

Deputy in the right place at the right time received recognition

COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - If luck is when preparation meets opportunity, it was one man’s very lucky day when a Columbus County sheriff’s deputy passed by his house.

Deputy Drew Zehnder was driving on Seven Creeks Highway when a neighbor flagged him down for help.

The house next door was full of smoke.

The neighbor declined an on-camera interview but told WECT’s Anna Phillips he and the deputy went inside and pulled the unresponsive man out.

“I didn’t see any flames. All I saw was smoke, so at that time I knew I was good from the heat," Zehnder said. "So, it was really just fire instinct kicked in and go through the front door, stay low and try to find a body.”

Deputy Drew Zehnder has been on the job for less than one year but he has seven years experience as a volunteer firefighter. He says he was just in the right place at the right time. It was the first time he’s pulled someone out.

“I’ve been with the fire department for seven years and it’s never happened," he said. "So, I start here and within 5-6 months... It’s just a different uniform doing the same thing.”

State Fire Marshal and Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey presented Deputy Zehnder with a “SAVE” award Wednesday.

“I just want to show our appreciation for the individual that risked his own life to save a life,” Causey said.

Zehnder says he’s proud of his actions but that he was also just doing his job.

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