A situation over the weekend for East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy William Bankston proved that sometimes law enforcement is never truly off the clock.
Bankston was off-duty on Jan. 22 driving down Staring Lane right off Perkins Road in Baton Rouge with his girlfriend Hayden Moore when they saw a few cars ahead of them hit the brakes at the edge of a bridge.
“We had gone to Oak Point (grocery) in Central to get one of their famous king cakes,” Moore said. “We were heading back and we saw a man standing by the bridge and other people standing on the roadway near the bridge. It was unusual. We thought maybe it was an old accident that hadn’t been cleaned up.”
It wasn’t an old accident. A car had gotten into a wreck and split into two pieces. One half was on the grass, while the other was in the water under the bridge.
When Bankston got closer, He said he noticed someone’s leg under the debris. His training kicked in at that moment.
“I put the truck in park, jump out and run down to the side of the bridge and when I did that I could see the front half of the vehicle down in the water with what appeared to be someone’s leg sticking out from under it so it just kind of was like a switch flipped it just kind of kicked in and I just took off running.”
Bankston said he pulled the man out of the water and started performing a sternum rub. After that, the man began coughing up blood and water.
“I basically just kind of tried to stabilize him,” Bankston recalled. “I was relaying back and forth to Hayden, she was at the top of the bridge, to call 911 and let them know where we’re at and stuff like that. It was a wild, wild experience.”
The training automatically kicked in for the five-year law enforcement veteran in the high-pressure situation, but Moore said it was a different story for her.
“I would tell people I’m calm and cool under pressure and this proves that I’m wrong,” she said. “He (Bankston) was calmer than me. He was able to still call out directions to me and I’m on the phone with 9-1-1 shaking. I think I probably screamed ‘like, Oh, he’s dead.’ Like I went to the worst case scenario.”
Despite five years of law enforcement experience, Bankston said last Sunday’s experience was unique.
“I don’t think I’ve ever pulled anybody out of the water before,” he said. “I’ve pulled people from burning cars and stuff like that, but I’ve never actually pulled anyone out of the water who was drowning before, so it was it was something quite new to me.”
Following the incident, Moore created a social media post about Bankston’s heroics and the couple had no idea it would become as big as it did.
“I had no idea. I didn’t even know that Hayden was gonna make a Facebook post,” Bankston said. “It kind of surprised me, you know just saying like, ‘Oh, I’m so proud of you’ and I had no idea all this was coming. I was like wow you know, it’s very positive, but I was very surprised.”