Off-duty Macon police officer rescues drowning girl

A Macon police officer rescued a drowning teenager while vacationing on Tybee Island last week.

Police Maj. Tonnie Williams was on the beach about 7 p.m. Thursday when he heard calls from the water about a teenager drowning.

A young man was standing in chest-deep water trying to rescue the 15-year-old girl in rough surf, but he was struggling against 3-foot waves. Williams immediately jumped into the water to help.

“The water was not quite chest-deep for me,” he said, referencing his tall stature.

Williams was able to bring the girl to shore and was preparing to administer first aid when two women approached, told him they were nurses and began to give her CPR.

Meanwhile, Williams called for more help and waited until an ambulance arrived to take the girl to the hospital, where she is expected to make a full recovery, he said.

Williams kept mum about the story until Jami Gaudet, the police department’s public information officer, got a tip about the rescue and brought it up in a staff meeting.

“I’m happy to have outed him because he never would have told anyone,” Gaudet said. “He was very sheepish.”

Gaudet said Williams’ attitude is common among officers, who treat heroic acts as “part of the job.”

“They don’t bathe in glory or bask in (fame),” she said.

Williams said he didn’t tell anyone about the rescue because he doesn’t consider it an act of bravery. He said he hoped someone would do the same thing for him and his family.

“I am no hero,” he said.

To contact writer Liz Bibb, call 744-4425.