On December 12, 1973, Officer
William Prettyman was driving home from a three-day vacation to the
mountains with his wife and infant daughter. As he drove south
on the 91 freeway towards Central Avenue, he turned to his wife and
told her, "I think I'm going to faint." Officer Prettyman was
able to pull his vehicle over onto the shoulder of the highway and
stop before losing consciousness. According to the coroner, "by
the time the car stopped, he was unconscious. He was actually
probably deceased at that time. [His wife] thought he died
Prettyman, a registered nurse, pulled her husband out of the car and
began administering CPR. After a few moments, an unidentified
passing motorist, a woman, stopped and took over administering the
heart massage while Mrs. Prettyman began emergency breathing for her
two Riverside police detectives, Larry Fogleman and Ernie Luera,
arrived at the scene.
Luera said he did not
attempt to interrupt the two women because they
"had a rhythm going." He said he did not at first realize the
fallen motorist was a fellow officer.
"His wife said he
was a police man," Luera said. "I looked at his wallet and saw it was Bill."
Luera then radioed for an ambulance
which arrived a short time later to transport Prettyman to a nearby hospital.
Officer Prettyman was pronounced dead upon arrival.
Officer William Prettyman first joined the
Riverside Police Department as a patrolman in May, 1972, after serving
as a Sheriff's deputy in Los Angeles County since 1970. Prior to
that he had served two years in the Army and attended Cal State Los
Angeles where he obtained a Bachelor's degree in English. The
Prettyman's had been married for a year and a half and had one
daughter at the time of his death.
Officer Prettyman had no known history of medical
problems prior to his death. It was later determined that his
death had been due to complications resulting from a blow to the chest
received in a fight with a suspect prior to his leaving on vacation.