Arkansas State Police Officer Chet White was honored as Trooper of the Year after rescuing a girl – his colleague’s daughter – from a serious accident while off-duty.
Due to White’s quick thinking and brave actions, he was able to save 12-year-old Aubrey Williams, the daughter of fellow trooper Nathan Williams, from a utility terrain vehicle crash. White lifted the vehicle to extract her from the wreckage and performed CPR until medical help arrived according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
On June 30, Arkansas State Police Director Col. Bill Bryant and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge presented the Trooper of the Year award to White during the annual awards ceremony for his brave actions. He was awarded partly due to his friend and colleague Nathan Williams’ influence.
On the day of the crash, White, who coaches this softball team his daughter and Aubrey play for, was celebrating his daughter’s birthday.
“It kind of worked out perfect,” White said. “During the heart of covid, we couldn’t do big parties or nothing, so I told my daughter to invite a few friends, and we could either go to deer camp and hang out or go to the lake. And she actually chose to go to deer camp.”
Nathan Williams said Aubrey and Tessa have been friends from a young age, and that he became friends with White due to their daughters being the same age.
At the camp, the daughters planned to ride the off-road vehicles before a cookout that evening.
Soon after the daughters rode off on their UTV, one of the daughters’ friends came running and calling for help.
“I realized something was wrong,” White said. “Your mind kind of goes wild there for a minute.”
White immediately got in his truck and drove to the scene of the accident. The Polaris Ranger UTV had overturned and was pinning Aubrey to the ground right over her shoulder blade area.
That’s when White lifted the 1,800-pound vehicle enough for Tessa to drag Aubrey to the side.
“I remember worrying about head injuries, neck injuries. It’s all split-second thinking that I’ve got to get her out to work on her and see what’s going on with her,” White said.
He quickly realized that her leg was severely injured, and instinctively began performing CPR when he could not find a pulse – it was one of the first things he learned as an officer.
“I went back to how we did CPR back in the late 90s, early 2000s, when we still did chest compressions and breaths,” White said. “I guess sometimes you revert back to the training you learn first.”
Suddenly, Aubrey began breathing again until she lapsed back into unconsciousness.
Tessa called 911, and White immediately grabbed the phone and identified himself as a trooper. Being in the countryside, he requested an ambulance and an airlift. As an experienced state trooper, White knew what he was doing.
“Seeing so many accidents over the years, I knew I needed a helicopter and an ambulance. Sometimes if you identify yourself as an Arkansas State Trooper, they’ll get you what you need,” White explained.
Williams rushed to the hospital in Little Rock where the helicopter was taking his daughter, and convinced the staff to let him wait for Aubrey in the hospital before she was admitted.
“We knew she was absolutely critical. We didn’t even know if she was going to be alive when the helicopter landed,” he said.
Doctors told Williams that her lung injuries were severe and that she needed to be put on oxygen to prevent her organs from failing.
After 10 days in the hospital, Aubrey was finally released. She was even able to watch the final game of the softball season from her wheelchair.
“We said ‘we’ll surprise them. Because Chet, he was the coach. And the two girls that were with Aubrey were playing. So we kind of went down there and surprised them,” Williams said.
When the softball season rolled around in 2021, Aubrey recovered well enough to be able to pitch. White called the recovery “miraculous.”