Riverside Police Department


Officer William Prettyman

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 instantly."

Mrs. 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 husband.

By coincidence, 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.

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