OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Game wardens with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are dedicated to protecting the natural environment and fellow Oklahomans.

On May 11, a last-minute decision made by Warden Riley Willman led to the discovery of an Oklahoman in a life-or-death situation.

“I was driving down to West Siloam to actually look at what we believe to be a bear skeleton. On a whim or so I thought, well, I’ll pull in here to Flint Creek and see if anybody’s fishing while I’m on my way down,” Willman said. “So, I pulled down in there and I walked down the creek bank. And I wasn’t down there less than 30 seconds, and I heard people start screaming, yelling, ‘Help, police, call 911.’ Someone said ‘He’s drowning,’ and pointed at the low water dam.”

“And I looked out and I could see an arm come up and then go down. And at that point, I entered the creek and made my way to where they were pointing and swam out to the edge of where I could see he was being sucked under,” he added. “Luckily, the way the water swirled, it pushed him up at just the right moment to where me and another bystander could grab him by his collar and start swimming him back to the bank.”

Willman’s exceptional training CPR skills and a timely coincidence changed the fate of an Oklahoman in need.

“Pure, pure coincidence. Right place, right time. I didn’t plan on going to that area when I left the house. I didn’t plan on going to that area when I was five miles from it. I just pulled up. I saw as I was driving down the road, I saw the sign and I thought, it’s a good day to go in there and check,” Willman said. “Just one in a million. Right place, right time. I cannot explain that.”

His supervisor, Lt. Col. Wade Ferrar says Warden Willman is the kind of Oklahoman you want nearby when you need help.

“Warden Willman is just an impeccable officer in all facets of everything that he does. He’s one of the greatest of the great,” said Lt. Col. Wade Ferrar.

The sponsor of Proud to Serve, Quail Creek Bank, and KFOR salute Game Warden Riley Willman for his heroic actions.

“To hear somebody drowning and just to have that instinct to just jump in and save them is well worth recognizing. I’m so glad we have this opportunity to recognize Riley and what he’s done,” said Erin Batey, Chief Communications & Innovations Officer with Quail Creek Bank.

If you would like to nominate a first responder worthy of recognition, click here.