ST. PETE BEACH — Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies assisted with a water rescue that occurred about 11:37 a.m. July 24 in the Gulf of Mexico behind 4700 Gulf Boulevard in St. Pete Beach.
Deputies say the water rescue was a collaborative effort that lasted almost 20 minutes and included the assistance of good Samaritans, fire rescue and deputies.
Deputies responded to the beach on a report about several swimmers who were struggling to swim back to shore due to the strong current.
When deputies arrived, they observed four swimmers James Tate, 58, and Lisa Tate, 37, both from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, Lewis Mazzone, 38, of Wesley Chapel, and an unidentified female about 40-50 yards offshore hanging onto two Styrofoam boards.
Another swimmer, Lonnie Fuchs, 48, of Newburgh, Indiana had made it to the beach on his own and was receiving medical attention from paramedics on scene.
Deputies say two firemen from the St. Pete Beach Fire Department swam out to assist the other swimmers when they got caught in the rough seas and rip current.
In the meantime, a deputy and a good Samaritan were able to assist the unidentified female swimmer back to shore using a rescue throw rope.
A third fireman entered the water to assist with a throw rope and he was also caught in the rip current.
First responders and bystanders worked together with rescue throw ropes to pull the Tates and Mazzone back to shore.
Marine Unit deputies responded with a boat and rescued one fireman. The other two firemen were able to grab rescue throw ropes and were pulled back to shore.
Fuchs was transported to a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries. No other injuries were reported.