by Drew Paul
Drew Paul was awarded the Citizen Life Saving Award for Heroism
by Tampa Police Chief, Jane Castor, OSHA Excellence Award, and
was recognized by the National Safety Council with the award of the
Distinguished Service to Safety Award.
Brothers Jump Into Pond To Rescue Man In Sinking Car
By HOWARD ALTMAN | The Tampa Tribune
TAMPA - Brothers Tony and Drew were on their way to their sister's house for dinner Sunday afternoon when they saw a car in a retention pond. By the time they arrived at her home -- late, wet, bloody and chilled to the bone -- they had a great story to tell about saving a 74-year-old man's life.
It was almost 2:30 p.m., and the boys were nearly at their destination on Arbor Green Drive.
"I saw a crowd of people next to the pond," said Drew Paul, 27. "When I noticed car in water, I saw the outline of a person in the back, so I ripped open my brother's door, ran down to the water, ripped off my shirt and dove in."
"I just saw the back end" of the car, said Tony, 18, a student at Life Skills Center, who followed his brother into the pond.
The water was frigid -- and deep.
"The car was in the middle, a good 30 feet in," Tony said.
Drew said someone handed him a hammer on his way out to the car.
"I went to go smash window, and head of hammer broke right off," said Drew Paul.
By now, the two back doors of the car were above water, but locked, said Drew.
"I could clearly see the man in the back seat," he said. "His face was pressed up against the window of the car. The front two seats were totally immersed in water."
Drew said he dove under the water to see if anyone else was in the car. Seeing no one, he resurfaced and started trying to get the man out.
"His elbow started bleeding real bad," he said.
When that didn't work, Tony said he tried smashing the sinking car's rear window with his right fist.
The man inside the car seemed to be in shock, he said.
As the brothers struggled to save the man inside the car, their mother watched from the shore amazed.
Because the water was so deep and there was so much water pressure, Tony said he couldn't get enough leverage to smash the window open. But someone on the shore had a tire jack. So he swan back to shore, picked it up and swam back.
"It must have weighed 10 pounds," Tony said.
The tire jack worked, and Tony and Drew were able to break a hole in the window. Then the brothers punched the rest of it out.
The brothers then grabbed the man and pulled him out.
Just in time.
The car, a 2000 Hyundai, then sank to the bottom.
"At the moment we finally got him out, the water up to his neck," Drew Paul said. "His face was pressed up to glass. It was really the last minute."
"If I didn't have my hand on the man, he probably would have gone under with the car," Tony said.
The man, Shriram Kodali, of 10322 Venitia Real Ave., was in shock and unable to say anything.
"I don't blame him," Tony said. "The water was freezing. My heart was pumping, and it was hard to breathe."
After they rescued Kodali, the brothers realized the toll the rescue took.
"My hand was gushing blood," Tony said. "My brother's elbow was gushing blood."
Drew Paul, who owns Drew Paul Designs, a multimedia marketing firm, said he sat next to Kodali after they were all out of the water, but Kodali was still too shaken up to talk.
A Tampa police dive team eventually recovered the car. Investigators said Kodali lost control of the Hyundai while driving south along Arbor Green Drive. He spun out the car on the grass and got stuck. Then, while trying to back up and free the vehicle, he drove into the retention pond.