Dennis Bauerle holds a certificate of commendation presented to him at the May 12 Palm Harbor Rescue Commission meeting for saving an adult and two children from a submerged vehicle.
PALM HARBOR – Quick action by a Palm Harbor man that saved the lives of an adult and two children was recognized May 12 when Palm Harbor Fire Chief Craig Maciuba presented Dennis Bauerle with an award at the Palm Harbor Fire Rescue Commission meeting.
Bauerle was driving to Highland Lakes Elementary School about 2:50 p.m. April 14 to pick up his 9-year-old daughter when an oncoming car suddenly cut him off, crossing into his lane and then into a pond, according to a post on Palm Harbor Rescue’s Facebook page.
Bauerle stopped his vehicle and jumped into the pond swimming to the vehicle that was starting to submerge. He didn’t realize that the pond was at least 10 to 15 feet deep until he was about 5 yards out. He couldn’t see if anyone was inside, 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.
Eventually the male driver told Bauerle that he couldn’t get his window down. A few seconds later, the driver was able to open the window. He told Bauerle that he could not get out. He also told him there were two children in the back seat.
The unidentified man then told his children – a 7-year-old girl and 4-year-old male, who was in a car seat, to climb out the window to Bauerle. As the driver continued to try to free himself, the 7-year-old was wedged in the seat and unable to get out.
The front end of the vehicle began to take on more water and sink, causing the rear to tilt upward. Bauerle worked to move the girl’s book bag, so he could free her from the seat. He then grabbed the two children and the book bag and swam to shore. The driver was able to free himself and swam to shore before collapsing.
The driver had an unexpected medical problem, which caused him to blackout. He then lost control of his vehicle, winding up in the pond.
When Bauerle was asked about the rescue, including the girl’s book bag, he 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 OK and this is a miracle from God, not me.