Desoto County deputy drowns after saving son on vacation in Florida

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DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. — A vacation ended in tragedy as a Desoto County Sheriff’s deputy drowned during a family outing in Florida. Authorities said he died a hero.

“We are all struggling this morning. A fine young man,” said Sheriff Bill Rasco.

As the director of the Search and Rescue Division, Deputy William Nichols spent much of his life on the water saving lives. Tragically, that’s where his life ended Wednesday afternoon. The 16 year veteran of the Desoto County Sheriff’ Department drowned while saving his son at South Walton Beach in Florida.

Nichols helped his son make it back to shore but wasn’t able to make it himself because of the strong current.

“Just felt like his son was in desperate need and he goes in the water and the tide was taking his son out. He goes out. He goes out and gets his son to safety but it just took him back out,” said Rasco.

Rescuers pulled him from the water and performed CPR as he was rushed to the hospital. He later died.

Rasco said Nichols dedicated his life to serving the public and died a hero.

“That’s what he did. He would just go out and help people and do what he could to make people’s lives better.”

The Walton County Sheriff posted the following message on social media Wednesday.

Rasco had a message for that department.

“We want to give credit to the sheriff’s department down there for doing what they do and letting us know, and rescuing the body so we can bring him home.”

Nichols leaves behind a wife and two children.


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