Andy Lewis was preparing to play a few holes before dusk Tuesday afternoon at Whispering Pines Golf Club, where he has been a bag drop employee for 12 years, when a friend who was playing a couple holes ahead called with some bizarre news.
“He called me and said, ‘Hey, there’s a car driving around on hole No. 3,’ “ Lewis said.
So Lewis drove his golf cart to the par-5 and found a white SUV in the pond to the left of the green with a woman and her daughter, who is believed to be 8 years old, inside.
The front of the vehicle was submerged.
The driver was hysterical and appeared disoriented, Lewis said, and the young girl was frantically bouncing between the front and back seats
“She was hysterical. She didn’t know where she was at,” Lewis said of the driver, who had managed to drive along the cart path through the first three holes, through a bunker behind the third green and around the bank of the pond along a tree line before hitting a thick log that threw her SUV into the water.
“I tried to get the lady’s attention to roll down the window. She wouldn’t even make eye contact with me,” Lewis said. “. . . Then I saw the little girl jumping around. She was in the front and back, she was moving around. She was freaking out in the car.”
Lewis called 911 around 5 p.m. and was yelling at the SUV’s occupants to roll a window down. Lewis isn’t sure who hit the button, but the back passenger side window rolled about halfway down.
He asked the young girl if she could swim, and she said she could, so Lewis jumped into the water to meet her after she slithered through the window opening. He brought the girl to safety on the bank and jumped back into the water to try to get the driver to safety.
“That water was cold, brother,” Lewis said. “That little girl was cold. Oh my God.”
Water was halfway up the back door and higher at the front, and Lewis was unable to open any doors. He convinced the driver to move to the backseat, which was less submerged. “She was freaking out,” Lewis said. “She was out of her mind. She had lost it.”
Myrtle Beach Police arrived a few minutes later. The SUV had moved and was now floating, and Lewis knew it was going to soon fully sink. Lewis said an officer jumped in the water with him and attempted to break the back passenger side window with a baton several times before it finally smashed.
A towel was placed in the window to protect the driver from shards of glass. The driver had a clenched grip on the arm bar above the door, however, and resisted being pulled out, Lewis said. “The water is up above the seat now. The car is going down,” Lewis said.
Lewis said he pried her hand off the bar to allow the officer to pull her through the shattered window and bring her to the bank with the help of another officer, and the SUV was completely submerged within three to four minutes after her escape, Lewis said.
“It was a stressful situation. Once I saw the car moving it was time to get her out of there,” Lewis said. “She was going to be a gonner, no doubt.
“. . . The good Lord saved that girl. I didn’t do anything. I was just there at the right time to make a few calls and do a little bit of help.”
Kara Morgan Cribb, 34, has since been charged with DUI, child endangerment and reckless driving and has been released on bond.
An officer wrote in a Myrtle Beach Police report that the driver “was lethargic, disoriented, slurring her speech, her eyes were glassy. . . . She was speaking with me but was not making any sense, and did not know where she was.”
According to the police report, the driver later said at the hospital that she did not remember driving into the pond.
It has only been a few months since Whispering Pines, which is across Harrelson Boulevard from Myrtle Beach International Airport, was the site of another vehicle driving into a pond.
A driver had an apparent medical episode and drove off Harrelson Blvd. into the pond that buffers the 18th fairway from the road, and the driver and a passenger were saved by a pair of Good Samaritans driving by.
“I’ve seen some other crazy stuff at a golf course but that [Tuesday] takes No. 1,” Lewis said. “I was just going to hit some golf balls. You never know what’s going to happen.”