BROOKWOOD, Ala. (WIAT) — A 67-year-old man drowned in the Black Warrior River Friday morning while trying to help someone in the water, police say.
According to the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were called to Burchfield Branch Park at 11:26 a.m. Friday regarding a reported drowning at Burchfield Branch Park. The victim was 67-year-old William “Barney” McWilliam, a volunteer camp host at the park.
During the investigation, police discovered that beforehand, there were some people who were attempting to launch a boat from the landing at the park when their boat drifted away. One of the boat owners then swam to the boat in an attempt to recover it, but was unable to climb up inside and began drifting alongside the boat.
At some point, McWilliam saw the person and got in the water himself, attempting to swim to the boat to help out. McWilliam was a volunteer camp host at the park. McWilliam then became “distressed” in the water and went under. After being pulled out, McWilliam was given life-saving attempts, but all efforts failed.
“Mr. McWilliam’s family has asked for privacy, but wished to thank all the responding agencies and volunteers for all their efforts,” a release from the TCSO stated. “The family also wanted it known that Mr. McWilliam enjoyed volunteering at the park because of penchant for helping people. His wife stated he was an Eagle Scout as a teenager, and his entire life was spent looking for ways to help others, and it was not surprising that he would put his life at risk to help someone he didn’t know.”