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Largo man and 2-year-old daughter saved from drowning thank five good Samaritans

Desiree Gunther, far left, and Joyce Johnson, center left, speak with the man they saved from drowning, Jose Montes, along with Montes’ daughter after a ceremony Tuesday at Largo City Hall. 

DOMINICK TAO | Times

Desiree Gunther, far left, and Joyce Johnson, center left, speak with the man they saved from drowning, Jose Montes, along with Montes’ daughter after a ceremony Tuesday at Largo City Hall. 

Jose Montes was playing with his 2-year-old daughter Angela in the swimming pool at Brittany Bay Apartments in Largo on May 11. She would jump. He would catch her.

But Montes, 28, slipped on the pool edge at some point and hit his head. He went under.

His daughter, detectives say, didn't realize her father had fallen unconscious and jumped in after him.

The water swallowed them both.

Minutes passed, and so did their chances of survival.

Largo police Chief John Carroll said that by the time the father and daughter were discovered unconscious, it would likely have been too late for rescue workers to revive them even if someone had dialed 911 right away.

But because of five strangers near the pool that day, help was already there.

Desiree Gunther, Amy Elliott, Joyce Johnson, Jessica Boles and A.J. Jones each sprang into action.

Jones plunged into the water and helped pull the two out of the pool once word spread that the pair had been under for some time.

Gunther, who was enjoying the pool deck, dove in to assist.

Elliott, a nurse who was in the nearby clubhouse office signing a lease, ran to the pool and began performing CPR on Montes along with Jones.

Johnson, who lives across from the complex, worked on reviving Angela with Boles.

The little girl was the first to be revived.

"I just picked her up and started holding her. I'm amazed she's still here," Boles said.

Elliott said she didn't think she would see the elder Montes alive again as he lay on the pool deck.

But she and the others succeeded.

Montes and his daughter were both in Largo City Hall on Tuesday night at a ceremony to honor the impromptu heroes.

"Thank you," he told them.

Gunther, Elliott, Johnson, Boles and Jones were given certificates from the city. All five accepted the awards in person except Jones, who was out of town.

Dominick Tao can be reached at dtao@sptimes.com or (727) 580-2951.

Largo man and 2-year-old daughter saved from drowning thank five good Samaritans 07/20/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 9:55pm]
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