TPWD News Release — Oct. 11, 2008
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Game Warden George Whatley, 45, died yesterday in Fort Stockton after collapsing following a training exercise. Whatley was participating in a physical agility test along with 10 other West Texas wardens when he was stricken.
All Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) game wardens are in the process of completing a physical agility test which will determine their baseline level of fitness as required for a mandatory standard passed into law during the 80th Legislative session. All commissioned state peace officers at TPWD, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Department of Public Safety are covered under the new law.
The wardens were participating in a physical agility test at Fort Stockton High School and performed push-ups, sit-ups, a 300-meter sprint, bench presses, a vertical leap and an agility course yesterday morning.
The wardens took a rest break before a 1.5 mile run, and during that time Whatley said he was not feeling well. He did not participate in the run but sat down in the shade to rest. After the other wardens had completed their run, Whatley was found slumped over, but still breathing.
An EMT-trained warden worked on him until EMS transported him to Fort Stockton Hospital, where emergency personnel worked for more than an hour to revive him. He was pronounced dead at 3:30 p.m.
Whatley, who was from Cass County in East Texas, was stationed in Van Horn and graduated from the game warden academy in 2007. He is survived by his wife, Kelly, and two sons: Sam, 14, and Seth, 13.
"Our deepest condolences are extended to the Whatley family in this untimely and tragic incident," said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. "We will do all we can to support the family through their grief."
An autopsy was performed this morning in Lubbock. As in all other cases involving the death of an employee while on duty, an internal TPWD investigation is underway. A funeral is being planned for East Texas next week and details will be announced as they are available.