It was just another day on the job for City of Port Lavaca Parks Department employees on the opening day of the newly reconstructed Lighthouse Beach Fishing Pier. However, what started as an ordinary October Friday ended up with three local men being hailed as heroes for preventing a young girl from possibly drowning.
Paul Castillo, Oscar Quintanilla, and Edward Tyler were going about their duties, making sure everything was in tip-top shape at Lighthouse Beach for the opening day of the new fishing pier when a man in distress ran down the fishing pier asking for help.
Tyler, who has been employed for three years by the City of Port Lavaca Parks and Maintenance Department, said he and his coworkers were working near the entrance of the pier when they heard a voice in distress.
“A man was running down the pier towards us yelling for someone to save his daughter because she could not swim. We heard the man yelling, ‘Help, my daughter is drowning.’ We really didn’t even think. We just went into action. Oscar, Paul, and I were working on the bathroom at Lighthouse beach on the day that the pier opened. So, I asked him where she was, and he pointed down to the right, and we saw her in the water towards the end of the pier. I yelled to Oscar to get the rope out of our work truck, and Paul and I started running on the pier towards the man’s daughter. That was about three-quarters of the way down the pier. By that time, Paul and I had made it to the halfway point; Oscar had caught up with us with the rope. So, while running down the pier, I tied a bowline knot in the rope, and when we reached the child, we threw the rope down to her, and she missed the first time. We threw it again, and she grabbed it. I yelled for her to put the rope over her head and under both of her arms.”
Tyler said the girl, identified as Faith Levrier, who apparently waded out too far and was taken by the current, was very scared, yelling, and appeared as though she was drowning. He said her head was bobbing in and out of water that was over her head, so he decided to climb down the pier to help her.
“When I got in the water with her, I held her and said, ‘calm down, I got you,’ and she grabbed my shoulder and knew she was safe. She appeared to be relieved and tired from bobbing in and out of the water. She had the rope around her. I was holding the rope and holding her. Paul and Oscar were moving us back down the pier. About that time, the Fire Department and EMS arrived on the scene. One of the firemen climbed down the pier to help me with the child, and we made it to shore, and the girl was then checked out by the EMS.”
Quintanilla, a City of PL employee for more than two years, said he didn’t know what to think when he first heard the man’s cries for help. He said that when he first saw the father, he felt panicked but jumped into action.
“The father said his daughter was swimming, and the current took her,” said Quintanilla. “I didn’t stop to think. I just ran to help. We just had to save her.”
None of the men feel like heroes though the community claims they are.
“At first, I didn’t know what was going on. I wasn’t sure what to think until he asked us to help him save his daughter, who was in the water, near the end of the pier,” said Castillo, a city employee for more than two years. “We got a rope and took off running. I feel really good about it that we could save her. Everybody calls us heroes,” Castillo said.
Director of Public Works Wayne Shaffer said he is proud to have these outstanding gentlemen serving the city.
Port Lavaca Mayor Jack Whitlow said it was so great to see City employees go out of their way to help the community like they did.
“This was a great thing. They went out before EMS could even get there,” said Mayor Whitlow. “They are always going out of their way. I am proud of all our City employees. They have a lot of pride in our community.”
The three men were recently commended during a Port Lavaca City Council meeting for their heroic efforts. Port Lavaca Mayor Jack Whitlow presented each man with a certificate of commendation for meritorious service.