Parasail captains save 74-year-old snorkeler from drowning

Posted at 6:25 PM, Sep 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-27 18:25:28-04

Unlikely heroes dashed in to save the life of another hero Tuesday. Now, 74-year-old Andy Gerolemon is recovering in the hospital because of three brave strangers.

Gerolemon, of the Villages, got swept up in a strong current near Johns Pass in Madeira Beach, and dipped beneath the surface of the water.

3 parasail captains from Eagle Parasail immediately jumped on their boat and rushed out to help.

Derek Kaplan, his brother Chaz Kaplan and coworker Chris Dean were overcome with fear when they first saw Gerolemon. “He was completely unresponsive. He was a light purple color. Not breathing. No pulse eyes with his wide open,” explained Derek. 

Immediately the three guys started CPR, and traded off for 13 minutes until EMTs arrived, “We just wanted to give him a fighting chance. We didn’t know what the outcome would be,” Derek Kaplan added.

Finally, they felt a pulse.

“Little by little he started gasping. That was very encouraging that our efforts were going somewhere,” explained Chris Dean, who was the first to start CPR.

Gerolemon was rushed to the hospital and Wednesday his family got good news: He may soon be off a ventilator, all because of 3 kind strangers.

“I will keep them in my prayers always,” Gerolemon’s wife Cathy said choking back tears from the waiting room at Northside Hospital in St Pete. 

His daughter Linda Gerolemon-Braglia says the hospital is lowering the O2 levels they are giving her dad to see if he picks up breathing on his own. He also was able to hold up a certain number of fingers for the doctor. 

Gerolemon is a grandpa to 7, a husband of 51 years and a hero himself. He served as a fireman for 3 decades, and even volunteered to save lives in the aftermath of September 11th.

His son Dave added, “My dad is a wonderful man. Words can’t express how grateful we are that someone was there to save him.”

Sometimes, even heroes need rescuing. Now, those brave rescuers say they hope Gerolemon makes it home to hug his grandkids. “More than anything that’s what we all want. We all want to give him a hug too,” said Derek Kaplan.