Altavista rookie police officer saves man

APD Officer Jeff Williams

Altavista’s newest police officer spent his Fourth of July saving someone’s life. 

Rookie Officer Jeff Williams, together with Sergeant Larry Rigney and Officer Scott Earhart, were called to English Park on the banks of the Staunton River shortly after 6:30 Monday evening. There were 20-to-30 Hispanic people at the river’s edge. 

A “chaotic scene,” Williams described. “They were screaming, crying for help. It was really intense.”

There were two victims. A crowd member was giving aid to a teenaged victim who was conscious but disoriented. Williams saw an older man who was not breathing. Half of his body was still in the river. Williams began CPR.

“The victim started to grunt. I told him, ‘I’m Officer Williams.  I’m here to help you. Stick with me, man.’”

Moments later, Rigney noticed the victim had regained his pulse. “His heart felt like it began beating; I don’t know if it was his heart or my heart,” Williams joked. “I caught myself praying while giving compressions. I then said, ‘Thank you Lord.’”

Both victims were able to walk away without needing further medical attention. 

Williams played football for George Washington High School and Averett University---and he says that background came in handy. “My job as a football player was to tackle the ball carrier. That required adrenaline. But this? I’d never experienced anything like this.”

Williams graduated from the Police Academy in Lynchburg last month and is in only his third week as an Altavista Police Officer. He is a native of Danville, and his father is a former Danville Police officer.