Published on Tuesday, January 8, 2008
in the Walton Sun
CRESTVIEW — Sometimes things happen for a reason.
On duty Christmas Eve, Florida Highway Patrolman William Tiller debated patrolling Interstate 10 or heading farther north. He first decided to see if anything was happening on the highway.
Once on the four-lane, Tiller realized his patrol car litter can needed emptying. He turned into the eastbound rest area near Crestview and dumped his refuse into a trash can.
As he departed, a routine patrol suddenly turned less routine.
A pick-up truck driving the wrong way on the rest area’s exit ramp caught Tiller’s attention. When he approached the truck to investigate, Tiller found a frantic family with a child in distress.
“When I looked at the child, there was obviously something wrong,” Tiller said. “The child was obviously having problems breathing.”
Kelvin Reed, 3, of Milton, traveling with his family for Christmas, accidentally had ingested some of a sibling’s medication.
“His respiratory system just shut down,” Tiller said. “He was just convulsing.”
Tiller promptly administered rescue breathing to the boy.
“He actually saved the little boy’s life,” said Dennis Wise, a 35-year law enforcement veteran and president of the American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens.
Thursday afternoon, Wise presented Tiller with the American Police Hall of Fame’s Lifesaving Award at a ceremony at the Crestview FHP barracks.
With his wife Michele at his side, Tiller’s 6-year-old boy, Frank, pinned the cross on his father’s chest, saying he was “proud because he’s my daddy.”
Thanks to Tiller’s quick action, Kelvin Reed not only got to celebrate Christmas, he also turned 3 on Dec. 29.
“You hear people say your training takes over,” Tiller said modestly of his instinctive Christmas Eve heroism. “That was certainly true in this case.”