Someone else might have just called 911 and hoped for the best. Not Gus Hertz. Upon seeing a submerged car Wednesday and then a plane crash nearby on Thursday, the 37-year-old vacationing from Roanoke, Va., rushed to the rescue on both occasions, helping to save three lives in less than 36 hours. Both days, Hertz left the scene quickly to avoid the spotlight, so it might seem inappropriate to dwell on his heroics. But in a culture that celebrates celebrity, it's worth reflecting on what sets Hertz apart.
On Wednesday, Hertz and St. Petersburg resident Kevin Daly saved a man who had suffered a diabetic episode and driven his car into the Intracoastal Waterway. On Thursday, Hertz was shocked to find himself in a similar situation. While fishing on his boat, he watched a plane crash in the water just a few hundred yards away, near the Sunshine Skyway bridge. Hertz sped to the rescue, pulling the pilot and his passenger to safety.
This is more than just a feel-good story. Hertz modestly claimed his involvement was "pure coincidence," but few would have responded to the same crises with such action. He had the ability to make a difference, and he acted. His actions should be applauded, and his character emulated.