Body cam video captures Altavista police helping two men from near drowning

Rookie Officer Jeffrey Williams says this was his first major call & his training kicked in

Two men are alive thanks to the quick action of local law enforcement

ALTAVISTA, Va. – Three members of the Altavista police department, including a rookie officer, jumped into action to revive two men who nearly drowned Monday.

Body camera video captured the moment police responded to a summer celebration turned chaotic.

“There was a lot of screaming, a lot of crying, a lot of pleas for help,” said Officer Jeffrey Williams.

Williams, along with Officer Scott Earhart and Sergeant Larry Rigney, arrived at English Park around 6:45 p.m. for a report of a possible drowning.

They said they found one man in his late teens or early 20s who appeared somewhat responsive.

They also found another man, believed to be in his 30s, who was unconscious.

“The first thought that I had was that the older gentleman was dead. The next thought immediately after that was prayer,” said Williams.

Williams just completed the police academy and started field training on June 20.

He said this was his first major call and training kicked in to save the older victim.

“I was talking to him as I was doing [chest compressions], saying, ‘Come on, man. Come on. You got it. I’m here to help you,” said Williams.

He says he applied about 30 chest compressions, then Rigney found the man’s pulse. They turned the victim on his side until medics arrived.

Earhart tended to the younger victim.

“There was a female that had apparently revived the one [victim] that I was with. She was a combat medic. I don’t have her name, but she did a wonderful job. We stood there and maintained his airway until the EMS arrived on the scene,” said Earhart.

Police say both victims were conscious within 10 minutes.

The younger man was carried by EMS.

As for the man Williams revived, he walked up the embankment and to the ambulance on his own.

“After he was revived, it was a true breath of relief. No pun intended,” said Williams.

“Williams did a remarkable job for just getting out of the academy; and as his field training officer, I’m very proud of him,” said Earhart.

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.