Benita Erby of Clinton said it was divine intervention that saved her life last Thursday night after she fell into a rain-swollen drainage ditch in front of UCA?s Stadium Park apartments. Actually, it was the strong arms of Conway resident Chad Hogan.
A Christian basketball program called Upward Bound was held in UCA?s Farris Center on Thursday, March 4. Erby, 42, and her two children attended the program as did Hogan and his family.
After the program, Erby left her children in the Farris Center as she walked nearly a block to her car, which was parked at UCA?s Buffalo Alumni Hall. After crossing the entrance to the Farris Center parking lot, she stepped onto a culvert, which she thought was the beginning of a sidewalk that was submerged under water. ?The whole area was flat because there was so much water,? Erby said.
After taking a step, Erby fell into the ditch. ?I didn?t panic, which is unusual for me because I don?t swim,? she explained.
Hogan said his wife, Natalie, saw Erby fall in the ditch and told her husband to go help. Hogan said he didn?t think she had actually fallen into a ditch until he saw the water sweeping her away. ?I might have lost sight of her hadn?t been for the umbrella she was holding onto,? he said.
Hogan grabbed the woman and pulled her from the ditch. Erby asked him if her remembered what happened next. He said, ?I asked if you were alright and you said ?yes.??
?I remember seeing his face and thinking he is an angel,? Erby recalled. ?After he pulled me out, I was so worried about getting back to my kids that I rushed off, but I got six or eight steps and thought that wasn?t a nice thing to do and when I turned around he was gone.?
Erby got the chance to properly thank her rescuer on Tuesday as UCA President Lu Hardin invited both back to campus to congratulate Hogan, in front of a small crowd of family and friends, for his courageous deed and to announce that a railing would soon be installed to prevent another accident.
?At a time in this nation when we wonder if there are still acts of kindness and goodness, we see that there are people like Chad Hogan. I just want to say thank you for your act of heroism,? Hardin said.