Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Beach visitors in Dunedin rescue a 76-year-old man clinging to his boat

On officer from the Sheriff’s Office marine unit checks out the boat of the man who was rescued.


On officer from the Sheriff’s Office marine unit checks out the boat of the man who was rescued.

DUNEDIN — Two men relaxing at the Dunedin Causeway rescued a 76-year-old man clinging to the side of his small capsized boat on Wednesday afternoon.

Swimmer Chris Russo, 35, and Ryan Smith, driving a water scooter, brought the man, identified as Jerome Cohen of Palm Harbor, back to the beach from about 350 feet offshore, according to authorities. He was treated by Dunedin firefighters and transported by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center.

Authorities said Cohen's 10-foot johnboat was anchored, and it is unclear whether he suffered a medical problem and fell overboard or was ejected.

Cohen was described as "unresponsive" when he was reached by Russo.

Russo, a bartender who recently moved to Palm Harbor from the Orlando area, and a female friend were "getting some sun, taking in the afternoon" on the beach when they noticed Smith circling what they had thought was an overturned boat.

When Smith's wake briefly turned the boat, they noticed the man clinging to the bow. Smith raced to shore, coincidentally right to Russo, telling him the man was on his back, purple and had "quivering lips."

A female passenger jumped off the water scooter to let Russo aboard and the men began a rescue attempt.

"We circle him and I yelled at the guy," Russo recalled. "I asked (Smith) to get as close as he could and I tried to get him up, but he was old, and a little overweight and water-logged, just dead weight."

Russo jumped into the water, securing Cohen under his armpit and held Smith's hand for a tow ashore as he kept the man's ahead above the waves. Fire-rescue crews were arriving as they reached the beach.

Russo has no lifeguard training, no particular skills that would have helped in the rescue he said, besides being willing to jump off his blanket.

"The guy needed help," he said. "I just jumped in. Everybody else was just standing around."

Beach visitors in Dunedin rescue a 76-year-old man clinging to his boat 05/06/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 6, 2009 8:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Diaz, Taddeo win easily in special Miami Senate primaries


    Two Miami state Senate candidates who raised and spent the most in their respective primaries — Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo — notched easy victories in a special election Tuesday night.

    Republican candidate Jose Felix Diaz is surrounded by supporters after he won the primary for Florida’s Senate District 40 race. Democrat Annette Taddeo, right, celebrates her victory with supporter Venus Lovely at BJ’s Restaurant in The Falls.
  3. In live debate, Kriseman and Baker ask St. Pete: Is the city better off?



    Mayoral candidates Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker made their best pitch to voters in front of a live television audience on Tuesday night. The candidates essentially asked this: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker debate in front of a live television audience during the City of St. Petersburg Mayoral Debate at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Romano: It all comes down to sewage in this mayoral race

    Local Government

    Well, poop.

    Nothing else really matters, does it?

    Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.

    At Tuesday’s debate, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman said responsibility lies on him regarding the sewage crisis.
  5. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete


    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.