For Lexington County native, there was never any doubt that he would help others
Red Bank, SC – For Lexington County native David Jones, serving others has always been a normal part of his life. During the recent floods that devastated Louisiana, Jones had an opportunity to take serving others to new heights, blessing a number of strangers in the process and receiving a blessing from God for his family and him in the process.
David is a lance corporal with the SC Highway Patrol. He serves as the Midland’s troops community relations and public information trooper. In his job he deals daily with other troopers from across our area reporting the details of fatal crashes and other tragedies. He also teaches highway traffic safety to teens as well as adults, making sure they know that South Carolina’s roads don’t have to rank as some of the deadliest in the nation.
The Jones family is almost legend in Lexington County. David’s father is Bimbo Jones, famous for selling and installing tens-of-thousands of auto and truck tires to our area’s motorists for decades at Frank’s Discount Tires.
David, in his trooper role, is often seen on newscasts covering what’s happening on the highways of the Midlands. During the SC floods of October, 2015, he was virtually everywhere; shadowing the governor, describing road conditions, detailing the state’s response to the devastating emergency, and cautioning drivers about the dangers of unnecessarily travelling our roads.
Last year, when a tanker truck crashed and caught fire on I-26 near Irmo, David was there. His face was fresh and clean shaven, his hat just so, his uniform pressed and clean; there was no indication he had been called out of bed and had little rest from the day’s shift before.
Few know that David had suffered a loss of his own during our 2015 floods. While he was serving our state, his own yard near Red Bank flooded with water. His home based workshop filled with muddy water damaging its contents, ruining most of his own tools and power equipment in the process. While he was out helping others, his own possessions sat in the muddy, murky water ensuring that they couldn’t be repaired and would need to be replaced.
While a few tools and some power equipment may seem small in comparison to others' losses during the floods, to David, the loss was significant. He, like so many other public safety employees, often depended on income from a second job when he was off duty to help support his family.
David is a talented, expert welder. He specializes in aluminum fabrication and often builds t-tops for boats as a way to bolster his income. Losing his tools was a blow, but he recovered, albeit slowly over a period of time.
In August of this year, prolonged rains flooded rivers and low lying areas of the state of Louisiana. Like SC in 2015, many lost all they had. The difference there was that the flat, naturally swampy topography of Louisiana made the flooding much more widespread. In many cases in that bayou studded state, there was waist deep water for miles and miles.
In September, David was flipping through Facebook when he saw a picture from Louisiana that caught his eye. The photo was of a Louisiana state trooper’s hat sitting on the fireplace mantel of a flooded home.
The hat was obviously ruined; soiled with mud from waters that had filled the home around the mantle. A line on the home’s wall another 18” or more above the hat marked where the high water mark reached. The floods had destroyed the home of the trooper who owned that hat.
The image of that hat was indelibly etched in David’s mind. Although he didn’t realize it at first, it would bring his family and him and the Louisiana flood victims on a collision course that would eventually bless them all.
One morning in September, David woke after having a dream. In that dream, he clearly saw that he was supposed to give someone a car. His was a strange dream simply because he knew he had no spare car himself that he could afford to give away. Throughout that day, and later that week, he never could shake the feeling that he should give someone a car.
David, a faithful man who knows the power of God and his works, realized his dream was real life when an old friend called to say that he had seen a used car in the Red Bank area that was a great deal if someone needed it. Because of the nagging memory of the dream, David decided to take a look at the car himself.
The little JEEP SUV was the perfect car for a young family. It had limited mileage, seemed mechanically sound, and was priced right. David knew it was the perfect car for what he felt he needed to do; give it away.
The wholesaler who owned the JEEP wanted just $4,700 for it. David told the man he planned to drive to Louisiana to find someone in need and to give the car away. After hearing that, the owner immediately dropped the price of the car to just $3,700.
Over the past year, David had been saving money to rebuild his work shop and replace his tools. He had gathered up $3,000 for that project and had already arranged for a local sawmill owner to cut some timber into boards for the rebuild project. After thinking about the car for a few moments, he decided the workshop and his own needs could wait. He pitched his $3,000 in for the car, drew the remaining amount out of his wife’s and his savings, and bought the little car. His workshop would have to wait a little while longer.
At this point, God was really just beginning. The day after David bought the car, the man who sold it to him asked him to swing back by the lot. Right then, the man gave Jones $500 in cash to take to Louisiana with him to help those who had been wiped out by the floods. Now Jones had the car and $500 for flood relief.
David was just finishing up fabricating a t-top for center console boats. As soon as he listed that top for sale, someone bought it and that cash was added to the flood relief pot.
At this point, David’s father-in-law heard about the flood relief trip and he donated $1,000 to the effort. Some other troopers in the area passed the hat amongst themselves and they came up with another $500 in donations as well.
Mike Hutchins, a well-known area businessman, was the person David had retained to mill the lumber for his workshop rebuild. When David called Mike to tell him he would have to delay the sawing of the lumber because he had bought the car with the cash he’d saved, Mike offered to mill the lumber for free.
Mike, a retired SC Forestry Commission ranger, and his wife Kim have always been heavily involved in Methodist missions work themselves. As soon as this Godly couple heard about David’s flood relief trip, they donated a truck full of cleaning supplies made into kits. These kits included 5 gallon buckets, cleaning fluids and chemicals, tank sprayers, and other items used to clean and repair after a flood. They bought all of this with their own money.
As word of the plan to help in Louisiana spread, money came in from several other places. Eventually, David had been given an additional $2,000 for supplies for the trip.
At this point, David approached the manager of our local Lowe’s in Red Bank. He told the story of his mission and showed her the $2,000 he had in hand. He wanted to buy battery operated tools like drills and saws that could be used in the rebuilding effort. The manager told him to load his carts with the items he needed and then ask for her at the register.
The tools David selected rang up at approximately $3,000. By his own admission, he had almost cleared the shelves of battery operated power equipment like saws and drills. As promised, the manager met him at the register and immediately discounted the tools so that David’s $2,000 would cover their cost.
The next weekend, David rented a U-Haul trailer, loaded the cleaning kits into the JEEP, loaded the JEEP on the trailer, and he, his wife, and his toddler son set out for Louisiana. They drove straight through, arriving in the devastated areas on Saturday.
With the help of friends from the Louisiana Troopers Association, David located the owner of the hat, a trooper named Brady with just a year’s experience on the patrol. Brady had a young wife and the couple had a 5-month-old daughter.
The Brady’s lives had been devastated by the flood. Their home was ruined by the rising waters and they had lost both of their personal cars as well. Even Brady’s patrol car had been drowned in the flooding.
The Bradys could hardly believe that this young trooper from SC had driven to their area and was going to give them a car. David simply signed it over to them on the spot!
Before catching a few hours of sleep and driving home, David and his family rode through some of the most devastated areas. They stopped where they saw a need and gave away the cleaning kits and the power tools. They blessed and helped who they could, but the needs were so great.
David told me that he was amazed at the spirit of the people of Louisiana. When he would give, those who received would immediately share what they had received with their neighbors, family, or friends. In one case, David gave a man $100 in cash. That man immediately called out to his neighbor, giving him half. Where devastation was seemingly endless, blessings abounded!
In conveying this story to me, David was quick to point out that he wanted no recognition for his part in the trip. He made it clear that the multitude of friends that had pitched in were who had made it possible for him to bless others and receive the blessing he returned to SC with.
Mike and Kim Hutchins gave so much in the form of the cleaning kits. Mike is also milling David’s lumber for his shop and expects no pay in return.
Others gave money in such a selfless way. Still others who couldn’t afford to give, prayed for David and his family as they travelled.
Throughout the entire project, God was the real hero. In a swampy state far away from ours, a young trooper whose family has a new car with no payments was blessed by brother officers and strangers he’d never met. He, and many others, are working together, shoulder to shoulder, as neighbors, friends, and families to recover and rebuild.
The Louisiana trip was a life changing event for David and his family. For the little time and monies he invested, he feels like he has received tenfold in blessings and friendships in return. He is comforted by the knowledge that men still are their brother’s keeper.
When times are tough, when all seems lost, God provides for us all. For those of us who need a hand, and also for those who feel the need to give, without expecting recognition or other material things in return.
Although law enforcement officers have received much criticism over the past several years for the unconscionable acts of a few bad officers, I am comforted to know so many in that profession that are like Trooper David Jones. They are kind, caring, hardworking people who give so much without seeking recognition in return.
The next time you see a trooper, a deputy, a police officer, or anyone else who’s tasked with keeping us safe daily, stop them, if just for a second and say thank you. These men and women are not only officers, they are people like David; most often they’re just good people too.