Palm Harbor hero honored for rescuing 3 from pond - WFLA News Channel 8

Palm Harbor hero honored for rescuing 3 from pond

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PHFR Chief, Craig Maciuba presented Dennis Bauerle, who is shown with his wife and kids, with an award on May 12 at the PHFR Commission meeting. PHFR photo PHFR Chief, Craig Maciuba presented Dennis Bauerle, who is shown with his wife and kids, with an award on May 12 at the PHFR Commission meeting. PHFR photo
PALM HARBOR, FL (WFLA) -

A Palm Harbor resident was recently honored for rescuing two kids and a man after their vehicle went into a pond.

Around 2:50 p.m. on Monday April 14, Dennis Bauerle was driving to Highland Lakes Elementary School to pick up his 9-year-old daughter when an oncoming vehicle suddenly cut him off, crossed into his lane and drove into a pond.

Bauerle stopped his car, jumped into the pond and swam to the vehicle which was starting to submerge, according to a Palm Harbor Fire Rescue spokesperson.

Bauerle didn’t realize that the pond was at least 10 to 15 feet deep until he was about five yards out. He couldn’t see if anyone was inside the car, so he began banging on the driver’s window yelling and shouting for the driver to roll down the window and climb out.

There was no immediate answer.

Finally, the person inside said, "I can’t get my window down." After a few seconds the driver was able to get the window open and said, "I can’t get out and my two kids are in the back seat."

The driver shouted to the children, a 7-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy who was in a car seat, to start unbuckling and climb out the window to Bauerle. In the meantime, the driver tried to free himself.

The girl was wedged in the seat and couldn’t get out. The front end of the vehicle started taking on more water and sinking, causing the rear of the vehicle to tilt upward, according to PHFR.

Bauerle struggled with the girl’s book bag and was able to move it and free the girl from the seat. Bauerle grabbed the book bag and the 4-year-old boy, who could not swim. He swam to shore holding the kids while the driver made it out and swam beside him, then collapsed on land.

When asked about why he grabbed the book bag Bauerle said, “I just thought, 'Hey she might have homework tonight and need this,' so I took it with us."

“I’m just glad everyone is okay and this is a miracle from God, not me," he added.

It turned out that the driver of the vehicle had an unexpected medical problem, which caused him to blackout and the vehicle to inadvertently drive into the pond.

PHFR Chief, Craig Maciuba presented Bauerle with an award on May 12 at the PHFR Commission meeting and congratulated him on his heroic actions, which saved the lives of three people.

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