Drowning Man Saved By Heroic Act Of State Game Warden

Flint Creek, Ok May, 22 ( The Oklahoma Post) –

An Arkansas man was rescued from drowning on May 11 thanks to the courage of an Oklahoma Game Warden that sprung into action near the Flint Creek Water Park just off of U.S. 412. Game Warden Riley Willman was in the right place at the right time one would say, but his decision to act is what made the difference. The former intern at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation certainly deserves his moment of praise.

The rescued man, in his late 30s, was swimming with friends, about five miles west of the Oklahoma state line along U.S. 412, said Game Warden Riley Willman, based in the Delaware County field office. Willman was on the way to a different location when he decided to pull off the highway to check for angler compliance at the recreation area as it was active that day. When Riley approached the creek, he heard people yelling excitedly from the opposite bank.

“I heard them screaming, ‘Help, police, call 911! Someone’s drowning!’ … And I saw that they were pointing to this low-water dam.” The creek was full and flowing quickly due to heavy rain in the area the previous day.

Game Warden Riley Willman

Willman said he jumped into the fast-flowing creek and made his way into the tailwaters swirling below the dam. Another man, who was also in the water, notified Willman that his best friend (the victim) had jumped into the water below the dam and had been sucked under by the vortex created by the water tumbling over the dam. The victim had been underwater for several minutes and the friends were not able to assist.

Willman without hesitation and in full uniform jumped into the rolling waters and swam to the edge of the vortex but was unable to locate the victim right away, but Willman kept searching with tenacity and carefully assessing the risk of each decision to rescue the drowning man. “Luckily, he popped up at the right time where I could grab him…..when you get sucked into a vortex, it’s kind of like a spin cycle in a washing machine. It kicked him out at just the right moment.” Willman stated.

The persons assisting Willman were able to assist in grabbing the victim to pull him to the water’s edge where Willman checked the victim’s status. Willman stated that “He had blue lips, no pulse. He was dead at that point.” Willman began CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation), and after about 30 seconds, he was able to feel a weak pulse. He rolled the victim on his side to expel water, but the victim’s pulse faded again. Willman said he continued CPR for five or six rounds, and finally, the man’s pulse returned. Willman went on to state, “He was dead, which is the crazy thing to me,”.

According to the wildlife department, an ambulance was called to the scene and transported the man to a Siloam Springs, Ark., hospital where he was discharged the following day.

In a press release regarding the event, Game Warden Lt. Joe Alexander, one of Willman’s supervisors in District 1, said the state’s Game Wardens often find themselves in harm’s way to protect residents and visitors to Oklahoma. “And Warden Willman is certainly no exception. His quick action and determination saved this man’s life. “We are extremely proud of his heroic actions, risking his own life to save another,” Alexander said.

Willman brushed aside being labeled as a hero in this situation. “It was just 100 percent that I was doing my job.”

According to the state agency’s website, Game Wardens are public servants sworn to protect wildlife and the public’s interests in the outdoors. They are among the most widely recognized members of the state’s wildlife conservation team. ODWC employs more than 100 wardens, dispersed among eight law enforcement districts statewide. All Game Wardens are state-certified peace officers, allowing them to enforce all state laws, and all are commissioned federal game wardens, allowing them to enforce Lacey Act provisions as well.

View the original transcript on the Official Oklahoma Wildlife Department Website.

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