Firefighter rescues swimmer in distress off Anastasia State Park early Saturday

St. Augustine Fire Department personnel saved a single mother off the beach at Anastasia State Park early Saturday morning, authorities say.


Capt. Pete Weiland said the department’s Engine 43, located near the park’s entrance, was dispatched at about 12:30 a.m. to a reported swimmer in distress. Personnel soon arrived on scene to meet a beach patron who last saw her friend being pulled out by a rip current.

“With knowledge of the direction of the current and drift, the crew had a general idea of where the victim might be,” he wrote in an email to The Record.

Weiland said firefighter Noah D. White, “without hesitation and at great personal risk,” made entry into the water and swam about 100 yards out and was able to hear the swimmer yelling for help.

White continued to swim and made contact with her and began helping her back to shore, according to Weiland.

He said a second firefighter from SAFD, Joshua Hennessey, entered the water to assist and that all three returned to shore safely.

Weiland said the swimmer in distress was shaken but OK, and was evaluated by personnel with SAFD and St. Johns County Fire Rescue on the beach.

The woman refused additional medical attention and was released into her own care and reunited with her friend, he said.

Operations Chief Chris Pacetti said it’s not necessarily normal for firefighters to have training or certifications in water rescue, but it’s certainly a valuable skill to have for emergency personnel serving in coastal areas. He said the department is pretty used to responding to calls at the state park and that White has had extensive water rescue training and experience.

Weiland said the woman’s name was unavailable, but that it was his understanding she was camping at the park at the time. A spokesman with the county’s fire rescue said because personnel rendered medical aid to the woman, his agency could not release the name due to patient privacy.

Deputy in motorcycle wreck

St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office traffic deputy Anthony Deleo was flown to UF Health Jacksonville on Friday after sustaining serious injuries in a crash involving his agency motorcycle, authorities say.

The Florida Highway Patrol says Deleo’s 2015 BMW motorcycle was heading westbound on County Road 210 near Cimarrone Boulevard just after 2 p.m., when the vehicle traveled off the right side of the road and struck a tree.

After striking the tree, the deputy was thrown off the motorcycle and struck a concrete power line pole where he came to rest, the crash report says. Deleo was wearing a helmet and the crash was not alcohol related, the report continues.

The crash is under investigation.