Ronald Reagan Shooting

Secret Service Agent Jerry Parr, Who Saved President Reagan’s Life In 1981, Dies

Retired Secret Service Agent Jerry Parr, whose quick thinking saved President Ronald Reagan’s life during an assassination attempt in 1981, died. He was 85.

Jerry Parr, a Secret Service agent, was assigned to close proximity protection detail of President Ronald Reagan. He was credited with saving the president’s life in 1981, during an assassination attempt. Had it not been for the quick thinking of Parr, Reagan would have succumbed to the bullet injury he had suffered. Parr was 51-years-old when the attack on President Reagan took place. The retired agent died of congestive heart failure in a hospice in Washington this Friday, according to his wife, Carolyn Parr. The couple was merely three days away from celebrating their 56th wedding anniversary.

Jerry Parr was assigned by the Secret Service to cover the close-body protection detail of President Reagan, which is considered one of the most prestigious and dangerous assignments that a Secret Service agent can aspire to have. Parr was on point and leading the President the day John Hinckley Jr. fired multiple rounds, with an intention to kill the President. However, the perpetrator ended up hitting three more people, including other Secret Service agents, that day.

Years of rigorous training allowed Jerry Parr to act with lightning fast reflexes. After hearing the gunshots, Parr did not wait to subdue the gunman, but grabbed the President and shoved him into the Presidential car. Agent Ray Shaddick, who was on the Presidential security detail that day, pushed Reagan further in the car and slammed the door shut.

Reagan was merely 70 days into his first term and was leaving the Washington Hilton Hotel after a speech when the attack took place, reported MSN. As Parr shouted “take off!” the Presidential car raced towards the White House on his orders. Meanwhile, Parr closely inspected the President for any signs of injury, but found no visible wounds. Meanwhile, Reagan lay slumped in the car, with his handkerchief placed firmly against his lips. Moments later, when President Reagan spoke, he complained of acute chest pains and Parr immediately knew that the President wasn’t OK.

Thinking quickly, Parr redirected the Presidential limousine to the George Washington University Hospital. As Jerry Parr helped the President out of the car, Reagan couldn’t take more than a few steps and collapsed inside the trauma center’s doors.

The severity of Reagan’s internal injuries became apparent to the doctors who started to operate, and could manage to arrest the internal bleeding with great effort. Though Reagan had lost half his blood, he survived. Investigations later revealed that the bullet that caused Reagan to bleed internally had ricocheted off the car and hit him below the left armpit. The nature of the injury wasn’t apparent to Parr, but his subsequent actions resulted in Reagan surviving the attack.

It is quite apparent that it was Jerry Parr, who saved the President’s life that day, said Joseph Giordano, who was the top trauma surgeon at George Washington University Hospital where Reagan was treated.

“If Jerry Parr took the president to the White House, Ronald Reagan would have died. There is no doubt in my mind. Jerry Parr is a hero.”

Jerry Parr was a Secret Service agent from 1962 to 1985. Parr had said he was inspired to become a Secret Service agent after seeing the 1939 movie Code of the Secret Service, reported CNN. The movie starred none other than President Reagan himself. Parr was just 9-years-old when he saw the promotional film, but knew he wanted to serve as the Secret Service agent. Who knew he would end saving the President?

Having lived as a minister post his retirement, Jerry Parr is survived by his wife and three daughters.

[Image Credit | Dirck Halstead / Getty Images]