TAMPA — Will May was sitting at a red light in Carrollwood when he saw a sport utility vehicle swerving across Village Drive. He watched as the vehicle took flight over an embankment and plunged into a 6-foot-deep retention pond.
"I jumped into the water right away," said May, 62. "And my granddaughter called 911."
The driver's door wouldn't open. Neither would the passenger's. The Honda SUV kept sinking. May opened the hatchback.
That's when sheriff's deputies pulled up, he said. They broke a window and pulled out Warren Michael Seiler, 68. They gave him CPR and took him to a hospital.
But Seiler didn't make it. He died late Thursday at University Community Hospital. Authorities aren't sure why he lost control of his vehicle Thursday night on Village Drive at Casey Road.
May said he instinctively ran to help, knowing there had to be someone inside of the sinking vehicle. He regrets not being able to do more.
"It was terrible, trying to rescue somebody and them passing," he said Friday.
Martha Seiler, Warren's wife, said they moved to Florida about 14 years ago from Baltimore. Mrs. Seiler, 78, wanted to be near her brother in Tampa.
Seiler spent a decade as an engineer working on space shuttles, she said. He retired but remained active. He tended to palm trees and flowers in the garden of their Carrollwood home, and he picked daisies for her. They would shop together and play tennis.
He zipped around on the motorcycle he got nearly two years ago.
"I wouldn't go near one," she said. "That was his hobby."
And he played kickball with his two young granddaughters living in Maryland.
"Oh, he just adored them," Mrs. Seiler said.
Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3433.