Pastor Wayne Reeves waded into flood waters on Oct. 5 to retrieve an unearthed casket that was floating down a road in Ridgeville, South Carolina (video below).
Reeves, of New Life Ministries in Summerville, South Carolina, told News 2: "That’s somebody’s family out there. This family is suffering. They had their family out there popping up out of the ground, and I think it’s the human thing to do.”
Reeves defied an order from a Dorchester County sheriff's deputy because "this is America," notes NBC News. He waded about 200 yards into the water to get the casket, which was helped ashore by a bystander.
The casket originally floated out of the cemetery of the Canaan United Methodist Church, a sister church of New Life Ministries.
After he rescued the coffin, Reeves told News 2: "If that was my mama or my dad, I'd walk through hell and high water, and today it happened to be high water."
"This family don’t want to sit out here on the edge of this road all night long, watching their family members bob in the water out there," he added. "That’s just not who we are. This is America, and we're better than that."
Irlean Thompson, a cousin of the deceased, said: "I just said, 'Lord, protect him,' because I know there could be snakes out there or what have you. The body being out there so long, and the water been rising since [Oct. 4], so we just said, 'Lord, cover him,' and he weren't afraid. So God sent him out there, and it's very compassionate."
Dorchester County sheriff’s deputies pulled a second casket out of the flood water. The two caskets belong to a husband and wife, according to family members.
The Dorchester County Coroner is trying to find a place to store the coffins until the flood is over, then the caskets will be buried again at the cemetery.