DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. (WREG) — A Florida vacation ended tragically Wednesday with the death of a Mississippi sheriff’s deputy who drowned while saving his son.
“We are all struggling this morning,” said Mississippi’s Desoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco. “(He was) a fine young man.”
Deputy William Nichols, a 16-year veteran of the Desoto County Sheriff’s Department, died after helping his son make it back to the shore of the beach where they were having a family outing. But he wasn’t able to make it himself because of the strong current.
“Just felt like his son was in desperate need and he goes in the water and the tide was taking his son out,” said Rasco. “He goes out. He goes out and gets his son to safety, but it just took him back out.”
Rescuers pulled him from the water and performed CPR as he was rushed to the hospital, where he later died.
Nichols, a Search and Rescue Division director, spent much of his life on the water, saving lives.
Rasco said he died a hero: “That’s what he did. He would just go out and help people and do what he could to make people’s lives better.”
Florida’s Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson Jr. posted a message on social media Wednesday:
His last act of service was rescuing his own son. We have no words to express our devastation. Our hearts go out to his family and our brothers and sisters in Desoto County.
Rest In Peace, brother. We have the watch.
Rasco responded to the message: “We want to give credit to the sheriff’s department down there for doing what they do and letting us know, and rescuing the body so we can bring him home.”
Nichols leaves behind a wife and two children.