MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The city's only fatality from Thursday's flooding has been identified. 67-year-old Frederick L. Hodrick, Jr. was in his car at the intersection of Debbie Drive and McGehee Road when rising flood waters pulled it into a drainage ditch.
His body was discovered by the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department early Friday morning at the edge of a tree line on Narrow Lane Road, nearly four miles from the location where his black Lincoln Town Car slipped below the raging waters.
A police officer attempted to rescue Hodrick, but the current was too swift and the car was pulled down stream. It was found several hundred yards down the drainage canal hours later, twisted and heavily damaged. Hodrick's body was not inside the car and a search team continued looking for him, hoping he'd made it out but understanding that it wasn't likely.
"He tried to grab the car because it was being sucked into the gully," said one witness to the rescue attempt. Another witness described the car floating away, out of reach, as though it were a leaf "just floating on water, just bobbing."
WSFA 12 News spoke with Hodrick's widow, Bettye. "I feel a part of me is gone," she said. Bettye and her husband met at a Carver High School dance over 40 years ago. Bettye says she knew then she was going to marry Freddie. The couple would have celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary this month.
Bettye says her husband was on the way home from work when flood waters swept his car off the road. "When I saw the car, I knew he was dead," says Davis. Four miles away and 24 hours later, search crews recovered his body in a drainage ditch off Narrow Lane Road.
Authorities say the body was taken to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for an autopsy. The preliminary report lists drowning as the cause of death.