Self-made engineer jumps into swamp to save submerged motorist

Published 12:15 am Saturday, July 28, 2018

HAHNVILLE — Ghislain Dadie was driving home from an MBA class at Louisiana State University recently when he noticed a small crowd standing near an overturned vehicle on Highway 3127 in St. Charles Parish.

Pulling over July 20 to take a closer look, he saw the car had veered off the road and toppled over into the swamp, where it was stuck on its side in a thick pool of mud.

Inside the vehicle, 2018 West St. John High graduate Maya Sanders frantically pushed up against her passenger side door. Gravity pushed back against her, trapping her in the car.

St. Charles Parish emergency services had been notified and were en route while simultaneously responding to a separate 7-person accident.

Hearing the young woman’s cries, Dadie decided to act fast.

Ghislain Dadie

He and another gentleman on scene trudged barefoot into the knee-deep mud toward the vehicle. As the other brave man held the door open, Dadie climbed on top of the car and hoisted Sanders over his shoulder.

They sunk further into the swamp, the mud reaching up to Dadie’s waist before all three made it back to the road safe and unscathed.

Dadie recalls Sanders hugging him and saying, “Thank you so much,” on repeat.

The young woman was en route to visit her grandfather in the emergency room, according to her mother, Theresa Sanders.

After hearing of the crash, Theresa left the ER to drive to the scene.

Police were on scene, volunteers had cleared out and she didn’t hear about the rescue effort until later in the night.

“Since then, my husband and I have both had an opportunity to speak with Mr. Dadie and express to him how grateful we were that he took the time to not only stop, but then went to the car to get her out,” Sanders said.

Ghislain Dadie and Sabrina Dadie are seen in Africa during a recent mission trip.

“We know how blessed we are that this turned out positively for Maya and our whole family.”

Dadie, originally from the Ivory Coast of Africa, came to the United States in 2002 and obtained citizenship in 2013.

“It was a little out of my character to jump in like that, but I always think about how this country has given me so much,” Dadie said. “I try to take any opportunity I can to give back.”

Raised in a Christian home by African schoolteachers, Dadie knew when he was 17 that he’d end up an American engineer.

“I pointed to a globe and said, I’m going there to study engineering,” Dadie said. “My friends looked at me and said, you don’t even have shoes on your feet. How are you going to afford to go there?”

He saved the money, studied engineering and found work at Shell in St. Charles Parish, where he resides with his wife, Sabrina, and their young son.

Dadie and his wife operate nonprofit ProSeed Foundation to promote STEM concepts locally and provide school renovation to students on the Ivory Coast of Africa.

He’s traveling back home in September to turn over a newly furnished school to African children.