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State awards local DNR rangers for heroism
White, Gibbs saved boy from drowning in 2016
Cpl. Bobby White
Cpl. Bobby White

Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this week presented Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Cpl. Bobby White and Ranger 1stClass Patrick Gibbs with the Governor’s Public Safety Award for Act of Heroism for saving the life of a young child in a dramatic river rescue last year.

The awards were presented during the 2017 Governor’s Public Safety Awards ceremony at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth.

On July 2, 2016, Gibbs was on vessel patrol with White on the Altamaha River 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. 

White maneuvered the vessel closer as the 4-year-old boy, who had drifted downstream from his family, went under the water. As they approached, Gibbs could only see a small, yellow toy fish the child was holding as he went down. 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.

He handed the child to 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.

Without the calculated, selfless and heroic actions of White and Gibbs on that July evening, the child most assuredly would have lost his life.

The Governor’s Public Safety Awards Program recognizes those men and women who have gone “above and beyond the call of duty” to protect the lives and property of the citizens of Georgia and those who have made significant contributions to their profession.

White has been with Georgia DNR since 1998 and resides in Wayne County and Gibbs is five-year veteran of the department and resides in Long County.

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