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Secret Service agent who saved Reagan after shooting dies at 85

WASHINGTON -- The Secret Service agent credited with saving President Ronald Reagan's life on the day he was shot outside a Washington hotel has died.

The retired agent, Jerry Parr of Washington, D.C., died Friday of congestive heart failure at the age of 85.

Parr was in charge of Reagan's detail on March 30, 1981, when a young man with mental problems, John Hinckley Jr., shot the president outside the Washington Hilton. When the shots rang out, Parr pushed Reagan inside the presidential limousine and it sped away for the White House.

After Reagan complained of chest pains and showed blood on his lips, Parr redirected the limousine to George Washington Hospital. As it turned out, Reagan had been hit in the chest and was bleeding internally. Doctors later said that any delay would have cost the president his life.


In 2012, CBS News' Bob Schieffer talked to Parr for "Sunday Morning" about that day.

"The first shot, the first thing that you see, the first yell, the first scream, the first violence, you go into action," Parr told Schieffer. "Cover, cover and evacuate, cover and evacuate - they get it embedded in your head as a muscle memory."

Schieffer noted that Parr was saying that he was operating on more than training but on instinct too.

"Instinct, intuition, a combination of both maybe and all the training ... I wasn't afraid of him, to handle his body like that," Parr told Schieffer. "In other words, I think when you're a young agent you're reluctant to do anything, to rattle him or to do something with him, but I wasn't. And so it just happened to be that day for me, I hoped it'd never come because of what happened with Kennedy."

In a statement Friday, former first lady Nancy Reagan called Parr "one of my true heroes."

Parr was born on Sept. 16, 1930, in Birmingham, Alabama. An Air Force veteran, he joined the Secret Service in 1962. He retired in 1985 and became an ordained minister.

He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, and three daughters.

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