The Untold Heroism of Arland D. Williams Jr. Amid National Tragedy Resurfaces After 40 Years

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The official name of the 14th Street Bridge in D.C. may not be one that most people are familiar with, but it memorializes a heroic individual by the name of Arland D. Williams, Jr. who sacrificed his life to save others during a tragic plane crash in 1982.

The Air Florida Flight 90 crash into the frozen Potomac River remains a harrowing event 42 years later. The sequence of unfortunate errors and the subsequent daring rescue efforts, led by individuals like Williams, continue to be a testament to the bravery and selflessness displayed during a time of crisis.

The tragic error-laden sequence of events leading to the crash, including inclement weather and misjudgments by the flight crew, resulted in a terrifying series of events that unfolded in that frozen river that fateful day.

The survival and rescue efforts amidst the freezing waters were nothing short of miraculous. The courageous rescue efforts by bystanders and National Park Service employees, as well as the ultimate sacrifice made by passengers like Williams, serve as a reminder of human compassion and bravery in the face of adversity.

The heroic actions of individuals like Williams were further acknowledged when then-President Ronald Reagan presented a posthumous Coast Guard’s Gold Lifesaving Medal to Williams’ family in honor of his valiant efforts during the tragic incident. The renaming of the 14th Street Bridge to honor Williams serves as a lasting tribute to his selfless act of heroism on that ill-fated day.