JULY 16, 2022, JOHN’S PASS SANDBAR (ELEANOR ISLAND) / TREASURE ISLAND, MADEIRA BEACH, FL – When one boater noticed several swimmers struggling due to a strong under current in what was reported to be about 15- to 30-foot-deep water around their local water hangout, the sandbar in front of John’s Pass, they jumped into action. In addition to one observant and heroic man, Dan Muccio, swimming out for a rescue attempt of several adults, another other man, Matt Clarke, noticed what appeared to be a father and his young daughter (with nothing but a tiny inflatable swim ring) having immense trouble getting back to shore. Local boat enthusiast and regular at the sandbar, Rich Caldwell, immediately grabbed his ResQ Discs and threw one to Clarke. Both men deployed their ResQ Discs, one to the adult swimmers, the other to the dad and his little girl.
“With my shoulder injury, I felt helpless,” said Clarke getting a little choked up recalling the very scary situation, “then Rich threw me the Disc.” Even with injury Clarke reported he was able to deploy to his target and redeploy quickly. Collectively, these men were able to save everyone’s lives. One rescued individual told Caldwell, “You literally saved my life today.”
Another gentleman, now a ResQ Disc owner, Chuck Viator, found the “get one free” offer on the ResQ Disc website and posted the information on the John’s Pass Sandbar Facebook Group. After receiving notice of the rescue, the team at ResQ Disc called and spoke with Mr. Clarke who told the incredible story of these lives saved. After receiving his free ResQ Disc for a reported rescue, Clarke said he’s donating it to Mr. Muccio who “put his own life on the line” to save the lives of others.
“With all the tourists our local hangout attracts, this [ResQ Disc] should be required equipment for every rental boat,” said Clarke, “Many who come are novice boaters and swimmers and are unaware of the dangerous currents that can catch them by surprise.” What could have been a tragic day ended in celebration from the team effort of these local heroes.
A number (but not all) of law enforcement, fire and other first responder units in Florida have equipped their teams with this life-saving emergency water rescue equipment and have reported successful rescues with the ResQ Disc. When in a situation like the one these boaters experienced, civilians, too, must go from fun-loving revelers to life-saving rescuers as there may not be enough time for first responders to arrive. As Chuck Viator put it so aptly in a comment on Clarke’s group post, “We really need to take care of each other out there. I have spent a lifetime on the water and it could be any one of us in that situation next weekend.”