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Black Florida Father Who Can’t Swim Risks His Life to Save Drowning Elderly Man

Shandale Lee can’t swim, but that didn’t stop him from helping rescue an elderly man who nearly drowned in a retention pond Friday morning in Florida.

Emergency workers responded to State Road 100 West just before 11:30 a.m. after receiving reports that a vehicle was in a retention pond, according to NBC affiliate WTLV. 

Man describes saving life
Even though he can’t swim, Shandale Lee helped save an elderly man from drowning in a retention pond in Florida Friday. (Screenshot from WTLV)

When they arrived to the scene about 50 miles southeast of Jacksonville, they found Lee and an unidentified man working to pull the victim from the fully submerged vehicle, Bradford County Emergency Management officials told the news station. 

“I knew something was wrong,” Lee told WTLV, unsure how long it would take for first-responders to arrive. “So I know if they aren’t going to get there, I have to get there.”

Lee told the news station he was on his way to get an oil change when he spotted the driver and had to quickly decide if he wanted to risk his life to save someone else.

“It was nerve-wracking,” he told WTLV.

“It seemed like forever, but it happened like that,” he added, snapping his fingers.

Deputies said the victim had a medical emergency, lost control of his vehicle and crashed, the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office told WTLV.

He suffered a laceration to the head and was taken to the hospital conscious and alert, authorities said.

Lee told WTLV the incident has made him understand how important it is to learn to swim.

“In saving someone’s life, it could be my child, my daughter,” he said. “I want to be able to now be able to be comfortable to say if something happens, I can get in there and get her.”

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