Quick reponse from first responders makes a difference in water rescue

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SARASOTA COUNTY – When an Osprey man drove his car into a pond in his neighborhood Tuesday, he had first responders to thank for saving his life.

The crash happened along Rivendell Boulevard Tuesday afternoon. That’s when first responders had to dive in, cut the man out, and try to save his life. At last check 78-year-old Bill Kawalec is in critical condition.

“As it took on water it sort of floated." Rubin Randel lives right around the corner from the neighborhood pond. He says first responders were quickly on the scene. "I have been to other chaotic scenes. I will call this controlled chaos. They knew what they were doing; they performed beautifully."

Captain Susan Pearson with Sarasota County Fire and EMS says two of their responders were there within minutes. Two Sarasota County Sheriff's deputies in full uniform also went jumping in. "The vehicle was completely submerged. Our rescue crew entered the water quickly."

Pearson says the men had to cut the victim out of his safety belt and remove him through the moon roof. He wasn't breathing.

Crews then performed CPR and got a pulse. "For them to act as quickly as they did, pull the man to the surface, and start CPR as quickly as they did is nothing short of miraculous. It was a very heroic effort."

Authorities don't yet know why Kawalec went crashing in. Rubin says his neighbor lives just a few streets away but knows he has a history of heart ailments. “A very nice man; very outgoing, welcoming and jovial."

As far as those who worked to give him a fighting chance, for now they are going un-named. "They will be getting an award for their heroic efforts. We cannot give you their names until the investigation is over," says Capt. Pearson.

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating why the car suddenly veered off to begin with.