Auburn graduate student Doug Bacon, who on Jan. 8 helped save Priscilla Woods after she jumped from the Edmund Pettus Bridge, receives a hug from Priscilla’s mother, Beatrice Woods. -- Tim Reeves

Hero honored for saving a stranger

Published 9:52pm Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The city of Selma, the Selma Fire Department and Selma Police Department honored Auburn graduate student Doug Bacon, Tuesday, with a proclamation from the mayor and multiple citizen-hero awards of excellence.

Bacon was applauded for his heroic act of courage on Jan. 8 when he swam out into the Alabama River to save a woman who jumped from the Edmund Pettus Bridge — a woman he had never met.

“Mr. Bacon made a split-second decision to swim out into the Alabama River and save the life of a stranger,” Selma Mayor George Evans said.  “And due to his courage and action, he was able to save Opelika resident Priscilla Woods from a near fatal jump.”

Each of the Selma City council members personally thanked Bacon for his courageous actions, and Ward 3 representative Greg Bjelke said, “You’re just a testament to being in the right place at the right time.”

Bacon nodded in agreement and noted he happened to sleep in a little bit that day, causing him to have a later start on his drive back to Auburn from Greensboro — a decision that put him in the right place at the right time.

“I think that it was one of those moments where there was just a short amount of time where I could react and not enough to really think it through,” Bacon said, recalling the events of Jan. 8.”

“It was in God’s plan from day one that these events were going to unfold the way they did. And I did not know you had slept in late, but that just adds to what I had to say,” Selma Fire Chief Michael Stokes said. “When you got to Selma, you could have chosen to use the bypass, like most folks do, but you didn’t. You came through all our traffic lights, and there’s a reason behind all of that.”

Stokes awarded Bacon with a certificate of excellence.

“Had you not been there, although there was a lot of people there — had you not been there we would have had a recovery mission, not a rescue mission,” Stokes said.

“I was happy to help,” Bacon said. “It makes me feel good to help, and I appreciate this and all your thanks and gratitude.”

Lt. Johnny King of the Selma Police Department told Bacon he has seen seven or eight people jump from the bridge and Woods is the only person who has ever survived.

“I’m so proud of what you did,” King said. “On behalf of the police department, we are so, so proud of you. There are a lot of people who see things and look the other way. You didn’t have to [jump in and save her], but you did.”

King quoted a passage of scripture from John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, than a man who laid down his life for a friend,” he read, adding, “And so that’s your friend, and you laid down your life for her, and we thank God for you.”

Bacon smiled and said he has spoken with Woods, who is currently recovering in Tuscaloosa, and her two sisters have both reached out to him and thanked him for his bravery.

Tuesday, Woods’ parents had the chance to do the same thing. When Beatrice and Charles Woods of Safford entered the council chambers, the first thing they did was wrap their arms around Bacon and give him a heartfelt thank you for saving their daughter.

“I’m so happy,” Beatrice told Bacon. “I’m so thankful that you would do something like this, because both of you could have died.”

Bacon said he plans to stay in touch with Priscilla and her family.

“Thankfully she’s OK, and hopefully she gets better. I know it’s probably a long process,” he said.

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