One tourist on vacation was able to make a big difference by rescuing three people, in two incidents on two separate days.
A Roanoke, Va man, Gus Hertz, was on vacation in St. Petersburg, Fla. when he was called upon to help save a man who had driven his BMW car off a bridge and into Pinellas Bayway. The driver of the partially submerged car was only the first rescue though.
After Wednesday's rescue, the next day on Thursday, Hertz was in his boat and spotted an ultralight aircraft which was having problems.
The pilot of the plane, 74-year-old Rodney Tyoe and a passenger, 55 year-old Gina Zimmerman wound up in the water under the ultralight, when it flipped over. The ultralight was equipped with pontoons for a water landing, but was not designed to land upside down, with the pontoons in the air.
When Hertz got to the scene of the ultralight splashdown, Tyoe was holding Zimmerman out of the water. Hertz knew of a school on the bay, Eckerd College, which kept a boat for rescues and called them. Zimmerman wound up with a cut on her leg and back pain so she was transported to a local hospital.
Tyoe on the other hand, as reported at KSHB, lost a tooth and refused medical assistance, although he did allow one of the boats to tow his plane to shore.
“We’re in good shape,” said Tyoe, who lost a tooth in the crash. “We just hit the water a little bit hard is all that happened.”
Hertz reports the pilot was attempting to land downwind, not the best practice in a light aircraft.
St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue spokesman, Lt. Joel Granata had this to say: “Two days, two heroic saves,” Granata said. “That’s unbelievable.”
A "Citizen’s Heroic Award" is in the works from the St. Petersburg fire department in November, and it can hardly be argued that Gus Hertz doesn't richly deserve the recognition.