Tuskegee University police officer speaks after saving woman from lake

Updated: Jul. 15, 2019 at 10:56 PM CDT
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TUSKEGEE, Ala. (WSFA) - A Tuskegee University police officer rescued a woman after her car crashed into a lake Sunday morning.

According to TU Police Chief Patrick Mardis, at around 3:30 a.m., a Tuskegee police officer requested assistance on a call that a vehicle had lost control and was submerged in Tuskegee Lake. TU Sgt. Jeffery McKinstry and Officer Sam White responded. It was discovered upon arrival that a woman was trapped inside.

“She rolled down the windows, but she wasn’t saying nothing. We hollered at her, but she wasn’t saying anything back. I was worried she might had slumped over and maybe gone under the water so I wanted to hurry up and get out there and check on her,” said Sgt. Jeffery McKinstry.

McKinstry said a week prior he had fished in the same area and knew it wasn’t that deep. Fearing the car could start floating in to a deeper part of the water before a rescue boat arrived he dove in.

“I’ve never had any training in this, but I can swim so I just used my gut instinct to go out there and do what I swore to do," said McKinstry. “I forced the door open and got her to come out and walk to the bank with me and that is where the fire department took over."

Monday, Mardis presented the Meritorious Service Award to McKinstry. Mardis says the award is among the highest awards an on-duty police officer can receive. This is only the second time Mardis has presented this award to an officer since he has been chief.

“This officer’s exemplary actions are among those attributes desired in the law enforcement profession,” said Mardis. “And certainly shows the devotion that our officers have for service to all of Macon County.”

Thanks to social media McKinstry says he was able to connect with the woman he rescued.

“She was sincere and heartfelt and thanked be for everything I’ve done,” said McKinstry.

McKinstry was recruited to TU as a sergeant more than a year ago. Prior to that he spent several years as an officer with the city of Tuskegee Police and Macon County Sheriff’s Office.

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