Conservation Employee Saves Life of Co-worker

Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) employee Jesse Holifield has recently been honored for saving the life of biologist Jeff Garner. Holifield was presented with an award for his bravery during a ceremony held at WFF headquarters in downtown Montgomery on Thursday, December 17, 2009.
Presenting the award was Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Barnett Lawley who praised Holifield as a hero. “We are thankful to have someone of Jesse’s caliber in the department,” Lawley said.
On July 22, 2009, Holifield was assisting Garner with a mussel sampling dive in the Tennessee River just south of Guntersville Dam when Garner experienced a diving equipment malfunction in 15-feet of water that cut off his surface-feed air supply. The bulky diving harness made it difficult for Garner to reach the surface. Fortunately, Holifield was able to pull Garner to the surface with the tether-rope, which allowed him to breathe as he was lifted into the boat.
According to Garner the task of tending the boat while a diver is in the water can be monotonous. However, Holifield remained alert and attentive to his duties during Garner’s dive, which is what ultimately saved his life.
“Without Jesse's alertness, attention to duty and substantial strength I would have surely drowned,” Garner said. “I’m very thankful to have had Jesse with me that day.”
Fisheries Section Chief Stan Cook echoed Garner’s gratitude. “The fact that Jeff is alive is a testament to Jesse’s character,” Cook said. “I’m certainly appreciative of Jesse.”
Holifield is a native of Marion, Ala., and has been employed by Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries for almost three years. Holifield’s wife and parents were in attendance during the award ceremony.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit .
 Photo: WFF Biologist Jeff Garner (left) and WFF employee Jesse Holifield (right).