Ellicott City shop owner says missing Guardsman was trying to save her when he was swept away in flood

Howard County officials are searching for a Maryland National Guardsman reported missing from Sunday’s devastating floods in historic Ellicott City.

Sgt. Eddison Hermond, 39, of Severn was last seen at 5:20 p.m. Sunday near La Palapa restaurant on Main Street, Howard County police said.

Update: Searchers find body of Maryland National Guardsman who went missing in Ellicott City flood »

Kate Bowman, who owns Clipper’s Canine Cafe, said Hermond was trying to help her when he disappeared into the flood waters. Bowman said she had escaped from the window of her flooded shop with her cat. The water was above her waist when she saw Hermond across the Tiber tributary.

“I could barely see anything and I could barely hear anything” because the waters were so loud, the 41-year-old Bowman said through tears on Monday night. “He stepped over the ledge to try to get to me, and he was washed away.”

Earlier Monday, county Police Chief Gary Gardner said Hermond had gone missing while trying to help a woman find a missing cat. Bowman said the situation “had nothing to do with my cat.”

“He was trying to save me,” said Bowman, who made it to safety. “He’s a hero.”

Gardner said Monday afternoon that teams were “aggressively” searching for Hermond. They were using dogs to help look in buildings and cars.

Maryland National Guard Col. Charles Kohler said Hermond is a sergeant assigned to Camp Fretterd in Reisterstown.

Kohler said Hermond was not working for the Guard when he went missing.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family,” Kohler said.

Hermond joined the Maryland Army National Guard in 2009, Kohler said. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1996 and served more than a decade on active duty.

Hermond’s friends gathered on Monday at Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia.

Jason Gotcher, who works at Victoria, said Hermond has worked there for 10 years as a server, bartender and manager.

“He’s a great guy,” Gotcher said.

Beth Czyryca of Columbia sat at the bar with friends, one of whom was dabbing her face with a tissue.

“We’re just tossing around ideas,” Czyryca said. “Maybe he’s sitting up in a tree where no one can see him, or he broke both his legs and can’t walk and is waiting for someone to find him.”

Czyryca, who attends a regular beer club on Mondays, said she has known Hermond for a decade.

“He’s the nicest person in the world,” she said. “He always has a great big smile on his face. ...

“I’m not surprised that he would be acting as a hero and jump right in to help.”

Gotcher said firefighters came in to update them. Because Hermond has military experience, he said, he has a better chance than most.

While authorities keep civilians away from the flooded area, he said, there wasn’t much Hermond’s friends could do.

“We’re kind of just letting first responders do their job,” he said.

Authorities asked anyone with information about Hermond’s whereabouts to call 911.

Friends said Hermond is about 6 feet tall with an athletic build, and was wearing a white T-shirt and black shorts. They posted a photo on Facebook of a smiling man wearing a military uniform.

pwood@baltsun.com

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