Gus Hertz’s Florida vacation started off simply enough, but within two days, he had made two water rescues and earned the title of hero.
Hertz, of Roanoake, Va., was in a St. Petersburg vacation condo with his wife, Stephanie, on Wednesday morning when she looked out of the window and saw that a driver had gone off the road and under a bridge.
“She yells, ‘There’s a car in the water,’ so I ran out the door, she called 911,” Hertz said in an interview with “Good Morning America” that aired this morning.
The driver, who had suffered a diabetic episode, was unconscious but breathing.
Hertz and Kevin Daly, a local fisherman, pulled the man out.
“Another three or four minutes and he would have floated out there and he would have drowned,” Daly said.
The next morning, as Hertz was trying to restart his vacation by going fishing, he saw a small, ultra-light plane crash in the water not far from him.
“It started to descend and about 500 yards away I saw a huge splash, and it flipped over, and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, here I go again,’” he said, laughing.
He leaped into action again, and dragged the pilot, 74-year-old Rodney Tyoe, and his female passenger, onto his boat.
Tyoe calls it “a little bit of a hard landing.”
The woman “couldn’t feel any of her limbs, so I helped them in the boat, and took them back to the marina,” Hertz said.
The woman, Tyoe’s son’s girlfriend, Gina Zimmerman, was treated at the hospital for minor injuries, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Family members were grateful to Hertz.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you,” Juanita Baker, Tyoe’s daughter, said. “Bless his heart. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time.”
And James D. Large, chief of the St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue Department, also had words of appreciation for Hertz.
“When you have citizens that are willing to step up while they’re waiting for us to get there and risk whatever it takes and make a difference, it does help us tremendously,” he said.
But Hertz refused to be called a hero.
“I did what anybody else would do, there was nothing spectacular about it, except it happened twice in a row,” he said.
His 8-year-old daughter, Callie, takes a different approach.
“I told him that he did something very good,” she said, “and I don’t know how I would do that.”