Heart-Stopping Footage Shows Woman Rescued During Maryland Flood By Human Chain

A storeowner captured the whole thing on video.

After a month's worth of rain fell in just two hours over Ellicott City, Maryland, a store owner captured a video of a group of men rescuing a woman from her car, which was being washed away. 

The owner of Still Life Gallery Fine Art & Custom Framing, Sara Arditti, was filming the floodwater rushing by her store when she and her husband noticed one of the cars being carried by the torrent still had a passenger inside, local Jamie Knight

The car stopped in front of the store long enough for Jason Barnes, owner of another store on Main Street, to try and rescue Knight. During his first attempt, the rush of the water knocked him off his feet.

"I didn't know how I was going to get out," Knight told the Baltimore Sun of that moment. "The water was rushing so strong. You saw him get washed away. I didn't want to get washed away also."

But Barnes did not give up. He quickly organized a human chain, and a nail-biting two minutes later, the residents reached the passenger side of Knight's car.

"I can't do this," she yelled in the video.

"You have to," someone from the store shouted back.

After encouraging her to climb out the window of her car, Barnes grabbed her and passed her to one of the people in the human chain. 

Video of the residents' heroism is going viral online.

The National Weather Service reported that Ellicott City's downpour, which delivered six inches of rain in only two hours, was so extreme that, statistically speaking, it should only happen once every 1,000 years. Damage to the town was extensive, and two people died in the floods. More than 100 were rescued.

In the aftermath of a tragedy, the video of Barnes and his human chain serves as a reminder that even in the most unlikely of circumstances, there are heroes among us willing to risk their lives to save neighbors they've never met. It's hard to imagine a more powerful demonstration of character, or of humanity.

Taking The Lede is an A Plus original series featuring ordinary people who quietly do extraordinary things. We believe these unsung heroes deserve their place in the headlines.