NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County commissioners on Tuesday recognized two teenage brothers who last month rescued a married couple stranded in the Gulf of Mexico.
Patrick and Garrett Pinder were honored with a resolution from the county and a special award from Ocoee, where the man they rescued works as a city police officer.
The brothers' act on May 10 got them featured in local newspapers as well as on the Today show.
There was no mention Tuesday, however, of the other reason Patrick Pinder, 18, has been in the news lately: He faces criminal charges after New Port Richey police say he was among a group of teenagers who randomly shot homeless men with BBs and plastic pellets.
Patrick has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor charges — battery and culpable negligence — in connection with the April 15 BB gun shooting of a homeless man who had been asleep on a bench on Adams Street.
Police also arrested Patrick on May 6 on a felony charge of aggravated battery after a second homeless man told police he, too, had been shot in the leg by a BB gun back in April.
On May 10, Patrick and his brother were scuba diving and spearfishing with their dad off Hernando Beach when they noticed a man waving an inflatable flotation device in the distance. The brothers untied the boat from the buoy and picked up Timothy and Paula Allen, who had been bobbing 20 miles off the shore for 24 hours.
When the brothers plucked the couple out of the water, the teens later said, the first words out of Paula Allen's mouth were: "You guys just saved our lives."
On Tuesday, Ocoee Mayor Scott Vandergrift said he had only given out "hero" awards to three other people in his more than 20-year career as city mayor. "A hero is a man who does what he can," he said. He gave them the key to the city and a "get-out-of jail-free card."
Pasco commission Chairman Jack Mariano, who sponsored the resolution, told the Pinder brothers that they had left an impact not only on the Allens, but on the couple's friends. Ocoee officials drove two hours to Pasco to make the presentation. "You can see the effect you've had on the people around them," he said.
Ocoee police Chief Charles Brown, who thanked the boys for their "outstanding act of bravery," said the Allens could not make it the meeting.
They are on a cruise.
Jodie Tillman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6247.