DeSoto County deputy’s body returned home after family vacation tragedy

DeSoto County deputy’s body returned home after family vacation tragedy

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. (WMC) - The Desoto County sheriff’s deputy who drowned while saving his son in the ocean is back home.

Members of the sheriff’s department greeted the plane carrying the body of William Nichols.

“He saved his son’s life, he is a hero.”

That is how William Nichols’ uncle described him -- a man who was the director of the DeSoto County Search and Rescue, a man familiar with dangerous water.

“It’s not a phone call you want. When the sheriff calls you crying, you know it’s bad. You know,” said Jerald Wheeler, uncle.

Jerald Wheeler recalled the phone call he received that his 33-year-old nephew had drowned saving his 10-year-old son.

William Nichols was on vacation in Sandestin, Florida with his wife, 10-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter. They were at the beach on Wednesday afternoon.

DeSoto Co. Sheriff’s deputy drowns after saving son while on vacation

The family saw their son in the water, apparently in trouble. Wheeler says his nephew went in the water and got his son and started pushing him away into the arms of a lifeguard. When they went back for Nichols he was gone, found 30 minutes later in the water.

William Nichols was director of Desoto County’s Search and Rescue unit. His office is just as he left it.

He knew dangerous water and how to navigate in it. He was an expert in water rescues.

“He did swift water rescue. He would swim in the river.”

Nichols grew up watching his father do rescues for the Sheriff’s office.

“This was all he knew growing up.”

Just before 8 p.m., the body of William Nichols arrived back in Desoto County. His flag draped casket was saluted one last time by the sheriff and deputies of the Desoto County Sheriff’s office.

William Nichols’ funeral is scheduled for Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Longview Baptist Church. He will be buried in Southaven.

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