Two local Georgia Department of Natural Resources law enforcement rangers were hailed as heroes last week by Gov. Nathan Deal for the 2916 rescue of a child in the Altamaha River.
Corporal Bobby White from Wayne County and Ranger First Class Patrick Gibbs from Long County were honored Dec. 7 with the Governor’s Public Safety Award for Act of Heroism.
The rescue took place July 2, 2016 while Gibbs and White were in a boat on “vessel patrol” in Long County “when they observed something unusual bobbing in the water down river and decided to investigate. They quickly determined it was a small child, with only his face above the water line, struggling to get air,” DNR said.
The boy had drifted downstream from his family, DNR said, and White steered the boat closer as the 4-year-old boy went under.
“As they approached, RFC Gibbs could only see a small, yellow, toy fish the child was holding as he went down and recognizing the grave danger to the child Gibbs dove into the river from the boat, swam under the boy and brought him to the surface,” DNR said. “He handed the child to Cpl. White, who pulled him into the vessel, where after coughing up large amounts of water, the boy was stabilized and began talking to the rangers.”
The awards were presented during the 2017 Governor’s Public Safety Awards ceremony at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth.
According to DNR, “without the calculated, selfless and heroic actions of Cpl. White and RFC Gibbs on that July evening, the child most assuredly would have lost his life.”
White has been with DNR since 1988. Gibbs has served five years with DNR.