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UT history student saves drowning man in Florida during spring break

History senior David Sawyer administers CPR and saves drowning man

Posted: March 17, 2008

History senior David Sawyer was part of a group of 53 UT students spending spring break in Destin, Florida. Sawyer and his friends were talking on the beach to a group of University of Georgia students on March 9 when they noticed that someone had floated facedown to the surface of the water. A University of Georgia student had broken his neck when he dove into the water just moments before.

The student's friends initially thought he was joking when he was lying in the chilly water, history senior Martin Newman said. Sawyer said he helped bring the student to shore and administered CPR. "All of a sudden David Sawyer was dragging his body out of the water and laid him on the sand and everyone was crowding around," psychology senior Stephanie George said. Sawyer said that after one or two minutes, the student spit up water and began breathing. "He looked absolutely lifeless," Newman said.

He said a crowd of about 100 people had gathered around before an ambulance arrived about five minutes later. "We were all just so scared," George said. " just very surreal." George said bystanders thought the student would not make it. Sawyer later went to a Pensacola hospital to visit the student after he had neck surgery. "Thankfully he's going to be OK," Sawyer said. In the spring of 2007, Sawyer had to become CPR certified when he worked at the Texas Capitol as an assistant sergeant of arms for the Senate. He said it is important for people to learn CPR so they can be prepared for emergencies.

Public relations and Plan II Honors senior Kimberly Heine said that though people were calling him a hero, Sawyer took it all in stride.

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