Virginia man saves two lives in two days while vacationing in Florida

Virginia man saves two lives in two days while vacationing in Florida

POSTED: Saturday, June 23, 2012 - 7:00pm

UPDATED: Saturday, June 23, 2012 - 7:04pm

Gus Hertz considers himself more lucky than heroic.

Nonetheless, the city of St. Petersburg, Florida didn't want the Virginia resident to leave town with a true thank-you.

On June 13, Hertz helped pull a man from a submerged car in the Intracoastal Waterway.

The next day, while fishing from his boat, he saved an ultralight pilot and passenger who crashed into Tampa Bay.

"You know, being in the right place at the right time one time is probably rare," St. Petersburg Fire Chief James Large said. "Being in the right place at the right time two times is really unique."

The city recognized Hertz's efforts by giving him a Heroic Citizens Award Thursday at Fire Station No. 11.

Also honored was Kevin Daly, a fisherman who assisted in the car rescue.

"I think anybody else would do it," said Hertz, 37, who is visiting St. Petersburg this summer with his family. "I really don't think I did anything anyone else wouldn't do."

Hertz's wife first noticed the submerged BMW outside the family's vacation condo on the Pinellas Bayway.

Daly was fishing nearby and was waving for help.

Together they pulled out the driver, who had suffered a diabetic episode.

The next day, Hertz was in his boat when the ultralight crashed yards away.

He rushed over to rescue the pair from the waters near the Sunshine Skyway.

"You think about it before it happens," he said. "It feels scary, but when you're in the situation, you just do what you got to do."

On Thursday he was reunited with the pilot, Rodney Tyoe, a 74-year-old former St. Petersburg firefighter, and his passenger, Gina Zimmerman.

"I'm glad you were there to handle it like you did," Tyoe told Hertz.

Hertz said his family was "a little overwhelmed by all the media attention."

"They just look at me and see Dad, so I hope that continues," he said.

Mayor Bill Foster sees that and more: a hero.

He joked that the city needs more tourists like Hertz.

"Enjoy the rest of your time here," Foster said. "Please come back. With visitors like you, I feel safer already."

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