Officer Luke Gilliland (right) jumped into the water to save a woman’s life.

Officer Luke Gilliland (right) jumped into the water to save a woman’s life.

On March 24, Officer Luke Gilliland, of the Colonial Beach Police Department, was awarded the prestigious Lifesaving Award from the American Red Cross for his heroic actions in the early morning hours of August 30, 2020. He was further honored by the Colonial Beach Police Department with the department’s Lifesaving Award. 

Officer Gilliland earned the referenced awards on August 30, when, at about 4 a.m., he was dispatched to the Colonial Beach Pier for a woman who had fallen off the pier and was unable to swim. Officer Gilliland arrived on scene to see several people on the pier and the woman in the water below. He saw that the rescue efforts of the people on the pier were proving to be unsuccessful.

He observed that the woman was unable to swim, was flailing her arms, and was repeatedly going under the water. Officer Gilliland quickly recognized that the woman was at risk for drowning, and he removed his police equipment, climbed over the railing, and dove off the pier into the water.  

He was able to contact the woman who was panicking and struggling, which made it difficult for him to swim her to shore. Despite the difficulty Officer Gilliland was able to swim the woman safely to shore. Upon reaching the shore other first responders who had arrived on scene were able to assist the woman out of the water. The woman was unharmed during the event due to Officer Gilliland’s decisive actions. 

Officer Gilliland exemplified the highest qualities of a law enforcement officer by disregarding his personal safety, jumping off the pier, and saving the woman from drowning. For his selfless act Officer Gilliland earned the referenced Lifesaving Awards and the thanks of his community.