Monday, April 23, 2018
News Roundup

Man who rescued drowning baby drew on past experience

Dimitri Kalogiannis remembers he was admiring a friend's Ford Galaxie 500 that balmy evening. It was the middle of June last year. He had just turned 19. The sun was sinking over their boater-friendly neighborhood, where streets alternate with canals. That's when he heard the shrieks.

From his side of the canal, Kalogiannis saw two women standing on the opposite sea wall crying for help. A man and a baby were in the water.

"It didn't seem like the guy was trying enough. It didn't seem like he could, like he was able to," Kalogiannis said.

The baby floated facedown at first. Someone called 911. Kalogiannis dove in. That quick decision is why, last week, he was honored by the Pasco Sheriff's Office with a plaque.

But Kalogiannis has been thrust in the eye of his community before, in the best and worst ways. His hands have held trophies. They've been in handcuffs.

What light can society cast when a man in a mugshot goes on to save a life?

• • •

Two years and five months earlier, he stood in a dinghy, bobbing over frigid Spring Bayou. He was 16 and it was the 104th Epiphany celebration in Tarpon Springs.

He and 65 other boys from Greek Orthodox churches formed a ring in the water.

Thousands of spectators stood at the water's edge. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, tossed a white wooden cross into the water and the 66 boys plunged in after it.

• • •

Kalogiannis reached under tiny arms and lifted the 14-month-old boy to a relative. A deputy arrived and revived the toddler.

The boy's father, Kevin Geddes, 39, had been drinking all day, a Pasco sheriff's report states. He had scooped up the baby then stumbled over the sea wall.

The baby was flown to a local hospital. Geddes was arrested on a charge of child neglect. TV news anchors lauded Kalogiannis for "quick thinking" and "heroism."

• • •

Seventeen seconds after the 66 boys dove into Spring Bayou, Kalogiannis broke the surface holding the white cross. He was the first in his family and the first member of St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Port Richey to catch the cross.

"To be the first from my church, it's an honor," Kalogiannis said at the time, while church members kissed the cross. "It's an honor for my family."

His father called it overwhelming. His mother hugged him and called him a great kid. Other divers hoisted him on their shoulders as they paraded up Tarpon Avenue.

He got a trophy, roughly the size of the Wimbledon Cup. At 16, a junior at Gulf High School at the time, the spotlight shined on him for the first time.

• • •

Last May, Kalogiannis hit what he agrees was his all-time low.

He was driving his BMW up U.S. 19 in Tarpon Springs when he came to a DUI checkpoint. Deputies found joint-rolling papers in his lap and a pinch of marijuana in the car's center console, according to a Pinellas County Sheriff's report.

A month later, he would save the baby. "I just don't know what to say about those two different events happening," he said. "It was just completely opposite."

Kalogiannis is 20 now. His golden hair is longer. He has since graduated high school and has been working odd jobs.

"It was kind of the same situation," he said last week of both awards. "I jumped in, I grabbed whatever I needed to grab, and I got the job done."

Because he was arrested in a different county, the Pasco sheriff had no idea of his prior record before giving him the Citizen Service Award. Spokeswoman Melanie Snow said it wouldn't have made a difference.

"It doesn't change the fact that he rescued a baby," she said. "That was a commendable thing to have done."

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

Comments
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays win on Carlos Gomez’s walkoff home run

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays win on Carlos Gomez’s walkoff home run

Carlos Gomez, who had been struggling, delivers a two-run, walkoff home run as the Rays sweep the Twins for the first time at Tropicana Field. Rick Stroud discusses the moment and the celebration that followed Gomez's first career walkoff hit in toda...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
How Deon Cain went from lifelong quarterback to NFL-bound receiver

How Deon Cain went from lifelong quarterback to NFL-bound receiver

TAMPA — Ricky Sailor thought his colleague had lost his mind.Sailor's Unsigned Preps 7-on-7 team had one of the area's most promising young quarterbacks, Deon Cain. So why would one of his coaches, Carlos Blake, want to risk injury and burn bri...
Updated: 1 hour ago
It’s a boy! Kate Middleton gives birth to third royal baby

It’s a boy! Kate Middleton gives birth to third royal baby

LONDON — Kensington Palace says the Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to her third child, a boy weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces (3.8 kilograms).The palace says the child was born at 11:01 a.m. (1001 GMT), a few hours after Kate was admitted to London’...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Can New Tampa handle nearly 700 more homes? Not without major changes, council member says

Can New Tampa handle nearly 700 more homes? Not without major changes, council member says

TAMPA — New Tampa was built on sprawl. Big houses, often in gated communities with lots of green space, are the operating principle for developing the area Tampa annexed in pieces starting in the mid 1980s.But residents who love the good schools and ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Scattered showers, thunderstorms kick off muggy week across Tampa Bay

Scattered showers, thunderstorms kick off muggy week across Tampa Bay

A large, disturbed weather system could drop thunderstorms and scattered showers across Tampa Bay. This is the same system that has caused water spouts and tornadoes to touch down around the Fort Walton Beach area in the Florida panhandle.This storm...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Waffle House customer on why he rushed shooter: ‘He was going to have to work to kill me’

Waffle House customer on why he rushed shooter: ‘He was going to have to work to kill me’

Moments before the first shot, James Shaw Jr. was watching a Waffle House employee wash dishes, stacking them higher and higher. When the first shot was fired, Shaw thought the tower of plates had come crashing down, he would later recount at a news ...
Updated: 3 hours ago

The Daystarter: Scott touts term limits in D.C.; Hillsborough teachers get day in court; All Children’s Heart Institute had ‘challenges’; Lightning tickets on sale today

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• We’ll have highs today ranging from the lower 80s to upper 80s with scattered showers and thunderstorms likely throughout the day, according to the National Weather Service.• As you h...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Waffle House suspect still being sought; residents on alert

Waffle House suspect still being sought; residents on alert

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As an intensive manhunt continues for the suspect in a Waffle House restaurant shooting that killed four people, police are warning residents of a Nashville neighborhood to beware of the alleged killer. More than 80 Nashville polic...
Updated: 4 hours ago
PolitiFact Florida: Does Gov. Rick Scott want to privatize Social Security?

PolitiFact Florida: Does Gov. Rick Scott want to privatize Social Security?

The president of a PAC that works to protect Social Security says Florida Gov. Rick Scott doesn’t have the backs of senior citizens.Jon "Bowzer" Bauman, the president of the Social Security Works PAC (and a former member of the band Sha Na Na), blast...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Hooper: Leader’s vision may lead to new Woodson Museum spot

Hooper: Leader’s vision may lead to new Woodson Museum spot

Premier Eye Care CEO Lorna Taylor received the inaugural Winnie Foster Lifetime Achievement Award at a Carter G. Woodson Museum event Sunday in St. Petersburg.The award is as much about what she hopes to do as what she’s already done for the museum. ...
Published: 04/23/18