It happened about a week ago, but Fort Worth Police Officer Kellie Whitehead is just now being hailed as a hero for her selfless efforts in rescuing a drowning man from the waters of Lake Como, on the city’s west side, on July 1.
Whitehead served as Fort Worth PD’s second LGBT liaison officer, taking over the position from Officer Sara Straten and later handing the reins to the department’s current liaison officer, Cpl. Tracey Knight.
According to a statement released by the police department, on the morning of July 1, a witness saw a man walk into the waters of Lake Como, and soon after, begin to scream for help. Another person nearby jumped in to the try and help the drowning man, but “soon realized that he was overpowered and would not be able to help due to the current and the uncooperativeness of the victim.”
Whitehead was patrolling the city’s west side at the time and she and a second officer were dispatched to the lake. Whitehead arrived at the scene first, and video footage from the dash cam in her patrol car show her running to the water’s edge where she removed her socks and shoes, her shirt and her bulletproof vest, before diving into the water and swimming out to the drowning man.
According to the statement from the PD, when she arrived at the scene,Whitehead locked her gun belt in her patrol car before going into the water. The statement also said that Whitehead “quickly reached the victim in the water and was able to keep the victim and herself above water and pull them both closer to shore. The Fire Department arrived and assisted pulling them both to safety.”
Whitehead told a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that her “plan was just to keep us alive.” She said she initially feared the victim was a child, and that once she reached the man in the water, she did her best to calm him down and reassure him that he was safe.
“It started as, ‘You’re going to be OK. … Don’t panic. Relax. Take a deep breath.’ It got to the point … ‘We’re going to be OK. We’re going to be fine.’ Just trying to keep both of us from panicking because it wasn’t that long that I was in the water but it seemed like forever.”
Video footage from Whitehead’s dash cam showing the rescue is below.