GOLDEN GATE, Fla - Two Collier County men are being called heroes after a remarkable rescue over the weekend.
They rushed to save a man who had fallen into Lake Sapphire in Golden Gate. The boater was unconscious and had only seconds to live.
It's a story of being at the right place at the right time. The victim, who only wants to be identified as Richard was fly fishing in Sapphire Lake when he accidentally fell in. His only hope was that someone would come to his rescue.
"My dad is my world," says Melanie Robinette. "I don't know what I would have done if I lost him."
For Robinette and her family, what happened on Lake Sapphire Sunday is a true Christmas miracle.
"I was wrapped in fly line and couldn't do much and the fish continued to pull and at one point it actually pulled me under as that's really the last thing I remember. Until the EMTs were asking me my name," recalls Richard.
Luckily Richard Szempruch, a neighbor nearby heard yelling from his dock and rushed over.
"I saw the guy going down for the last time," says SzempruchI hollered over the other guy to help me. He was too heavy for me."
Joe Barbera and his son just happened to be out fishing together that day. "Something put us there to get him out of the water exactly at that time to save him."
Together, the men pulled Richard onto the pontoon boat and Barbera started doing CPR.
"When the EMT's asked him his name and he said his name was Richard, I broke down crying because I knew at that point he was alive," says Barbera.
This weekend, Robinette will get a chance to say thank you to the men who saved her father's life when they meet for the first time face to face.
"What do you give a man who saved the most important thing in your life? I couldn't be more grateful and so when I see Joe, there's not any words. There's not any. I'm just going to hug him," says Robinette.
Barbera says that it has been 22 years since he took a CPR class at Barron Collier High School, but it was that training that helped save Richard's life on Sunday.