NORCROSS -- How ironic, thought Norcross police Chief Warren Summers: I'm having a heart attack in the most tranquil environment imaginable -- on vacation, near dusk, strolling the beaches of St. Augustine, Fla. with my wife.
So went the evening of June 29 for the longtime law man. Three weeks later, the 57-year-old former attorney is back to work and feeling well. The prognosis, he says, is good, thanks to the quick work of surgeons and a new regimen of medications.
Summers' first heart attack kept him off the job for about a week. He's the second Gwinnett police chief hospitalized in a month.
"I'm not going to be running any foot races just yet," said Summers, laughing.
Summers was a few days into a St. Augustine vacation heavy with touristy exploration. That evening, he had just wrapped up dinner with his wife, Joanne, when they meandered to the beach and telltale chest pains arose. His son, a 22-year-old Georgia State University student, found a hospital via his iPhone, and the family made a break for it, Summers said.
Flagler Hospital doctors inserted a few stints and prescribed rest. Members of the St. John's County Sheriff's Office caught wind of who Summers was, popped in the hospital to wish him well and helped accommodate his wife with a place to stay when reserved nights at their hotel elapsed, Summers said.
"I was treated kindly," he said.
A 30-year law enforcement veteran, Summers was hired to lead the Norcross department in December, after a long career with the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office and a few years serving as an assistant district attorney in Newton County. He once led the East Metro Drug Enforcement Team, a multi-jurisdictional task force.
Elsewhere in Gwinnett, Snellville police Chief Roy Whitehead, who also serves as interim city manager, was admitted to Eastside Medical Center last weekend after complications arose from a recent foot surgery.
As for Summers, he said he'll be working with a cardiologist from Emory to ensure his first heart attack was his last. His cholesterol and blood pressure had shown no red flags, and he recently passed a nuclear stress test with flying colors, he said.
"I thought I was doing everything right," he said.