Update: Park Volunteer’s Drowning Regarded as ‘Tragic Accident’
The Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit issued an update regarding a reported drowning that occurred Friday morning near Brookwood.
According to a release from Capt. Jack Kennedy, the commander of the multi-agency Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit, the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office was called to Burchfield Branch Park just before 11:30 a.m. The park sits on the bank of the Black Warrior River in the Adger community.
Kennedy says the drowning appears to be a "tragic accident."
"Subjects were attempting to launch a boat from the landing at the park when their boat drifted away," Kennedy's release read. "One of the boat owners then swam to the boat in an attempt to recover it, but was unable to climb up inside the boat and began drifting along-side of the boat."
William "Barny" McWilliam, 67, witnessed the events unfolding and went into the river to help. He volunteers as a camp host at Burchfield Branch Park.
McWilliam then fell under great stress and soon sank into the waters. He was brought to shore, unconscious. Kennedy's release indicated that Corps of Engineers Park Rangers, Antioch Volunteer Firefighters, Brookwood Police officers and Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Ofice deputies and paramedics all tried to perform life-saving measures to revive McWilliam, to no avail.
McWilliam's family asks for privacy during this devastating time.
"The family also wanted it known that Mr. McWilliam enjoyed volunteering at the park because of [his] penchant for helping people," Kennedy added. "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."