Surprise visit for Arlington Bowie head football coach
Eden Russom didn’t know if she would see another day. Her car – with Russom inside it – being devoured by the gushing waters in a ditch near Caddo Mills on Sept. 22.
But CJ Mashburn and Arlington Bowie head football coach Danny DeArman risked their lives to save hers as the two men broke a window, pulled her out and got her to safer ground.
She was able to thank Mashburn while being checked on by paramedics, but never DeArman.
The two got their chance on Friday at Bowie High School.
The Volunteers surprised DeArman with a pep rally at the school’s football field with students, cheerleaders, dancers and band members – and yes, even Russom, who on cue walked through the team’s inflatable tunnel before hugging DeArman.
“The coolest part is getting to meet Eden. I said all along that I was hoping for that opportunity because I left without saying anything and I wished I hadn’t,” DeArman said. “I was just trying to get out of the way so she could get taken care of. I think that’s the neatest part.”
“Everything happened so fast I didn’t know if I had a chance to say thank you,” Russom added. “Once it got viral on the news and social media, and I found out where he coached at, I had to thank him. I blessed him about a thousand times while on his back, but I didn’t officially say thank you and I felt it was only appropriate to do that.”
DeArman stayed inside the school thinking he was waiting for a parent meeting.
“I had no idea,” he said. “I got an email that we were having an assembly at 1:30. I was inside waiting for a parent to show up and when I walked out here that’s when I realized that I was set up.”
DeArman and his wife, Sarah – who shot the video – was dropping their son off on Sept. 22 when they noticed that both service roads near I-30 were flooded. On the way back they noticed three cars pulled over.
“I stopped to make sure everything was OK,” DeArman said. “Instincts took over after that.”
Danny got out of the car and Sarah called 9-11, but after a brief moment, she looked back and couldn’t find her husband. Danny had been pulled under the water before coming back up.
DeArman finally reached Russom’s car where Mashburn, another Good Samaritan, had broken one of her car windows. She hopped on DeArman’s back as the two went toward drier land.
“I’m thankful CJ acted when he did,” DeArman said.
“That’s just the kind of guy Danny is,” Sarah added. “It’s hard to talk about, but I’m very proud of him and we’re just thankful to God that everyone was OK.”
Russom said once she found out who DeArman was, she was going to come and visit him on Monday, but NBC contacted her before she got a chance.
“One thing led to another and they contacted me. I realized that this was going to turn out as a bigger production than I had thought,” Russom said. “So I think my little appearance could wait and I just wanted to celebrate Danny and CJ, and it couldn’t have turned out better. It was perfect.”
A family friend, Kelly Joe, is the one that posted the video on Twitter. It went viral within seconds. As of Friday, the video has 266 retweets and 950 likes.
“I’ve been around Danny so this comes as no shock to me,” said Eric White, Arlington ISD Athletic Director. “He’s a great person and human and very caring. It’s a neat story, but nothing surprises me. He’s a great leader for young men.”
The biggest takeaway for DeArman – hoping the younger generation learns for his experience.
“We have four core values we live by – family, integrity, selfless and toughness – and this is an opportunity for them to use a real-life experience in a way as serving others,” he said. “If we concentrate on being servant leaders, our world is a completely different place and I think we need to focus on that.”
“Any time you can get an example of leadership from a coach or someone in the school district and you can bring them in front of kids, it’s a good thing,” White added. “That selflessness that they teach every day brings light to it and shows that there are great people out there leading our children.”