SAVANNAH, GA. (April 10, 2014): A top officer of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department is commending some of his own and a good Samaritan after learning how four of his officers and a member of the military formed a human chain to pull a suicidal man from the Savannah River this weekend.
Assistant Chief Terry Enoch singled out the efforts of Officers Santana Willis and Jon Gibbs who found themselves in a perilous situation after the man jumped into the water about 12:50 a.m. Saturday.
“This was quite a heroic action that could have had terrible results for some of the officers but one in which they never hesitated,” Enoch told those at this week’s department-wide CompStat meeting. “Too often efforts such as these are overlooked and taken for granted.”
Willis, an advanced police officer assigned to the Downtown Precinct, was working off-duty at a private business along with APO Jon Gibbs of the Savannah Impact Program when they were advised that a subject was behaving strangely on the riverfront. When they responded, onlookers pointed to the water and they saw the man was struggling in the strong currents.
While Willis and Gibbs were working to pull the man onto the dock, teetering into strong currents themselves, they found themselves grabbed from behind by the other officers and the good Samaritan to support them. They formed a human chain to prevent the two officers falling into the strong current. But the subject had wrapped his legs around objects in the water to prevent being pulled to safety. He finally was forced onto the dock where he received medical treatment.
Police later learned the man had broken out a window at a downtown hotel before the incident. The only casualty of the event was Gibbs’ flashlight that did not make it back from the water.
The other officers involved were Ofc. Joshua Holz and APO Robbie Walp, both also assigned to the Downtown Precinct. The good Samaritan left before being identified.