When state Highway Patrol Senior Trooper William McInville stopped a car for running a red light and nearly causing a wreck in Florence County on June, he didnt think he would be saving a life.
But when the cars driver and passenger got out, one of them holding a 2-year-old toddler who wasnt breathing, his plans changed.
He grabbed the child and took him around to the back of his patrol car. The boys eyes were rolled back but he had a pulse, so McInville started performing the Heimlich maneuver. The child coughed up a piece of candy.
For his quick thinking, McInville was honored as the South Carolina Highway Patrols Trooper of the Year on Thursday at the agencys headquarters in Blythewood. The award, given each year to the law enforcement agencys most outstanding officer, was given to the trooper because he was the only one of 10 nominees to save a life, said the Patrols commander, Col. Michael Oliver.
Troopers never know what to expect on their shift, but Trooper McInville drew on his training and his experience to save a life, Oliver said.
After McInville dislodged the piece of candy, the boy was taken to McLeod Regional Medical Center in downtown Florence. Had the trooper not stopped the car and resuscitated the toddler, the boy likely would have died or suffered brain damage before getting to McLeod, one of the boys doctors told the trooper in the days after the wreck. McInville said he was just happy to see the child start breathing again.
It was a big relief, he said.
McInville won this years award in what Oliver called an extraordinary class of Trooper of the Year nominees. Some officers had made thousands of cases and dozens of arrests.
Others put themselves in harms way while pursuing armed and dangerous suspects. And one, Senior Trooper Brandon Stokes of Camden, had to shoot a DUI suspect who was attempting to strangle him in a ditch near the Sumter-Clarendon County line.
This was a big year, McInville said. I didnt think I had a chance.
McInville, a former Timmonsville rescue squad member who also served on the Florence police and fire departments before joining the Patrol in 2010, said the biggest thanks for his actions was hearing later from the boy.
A couple days after, the family did contact me and he got to thank me, he said. I actually teared up.