Boy Nearly Drowns But Is Saved, Alston & Baker Personal Injury Attorney Praises Good Samaritans

Law Firm Newswire



Zephyrhills, FL (Law Firm Newswire) October 21, 2013 – Tragedy was narrowly averted after an auto accident in St. Petersburg, Fla., sent a car carrying a man and his two sons into a canal.

St. Petersburg resident William J. Bacheler, 39, was eastbound on 77th Avenue North on a recent Tuesday with his sons, James Wilson, 8, and Jacob Wilson, 9. Bacheler’s sedan was struck from behind by an SUV. The impact sent the car into a canal, where it landed upside-down and began sinking. Zephyrhills auto accident attorney Robert Alston said that is a recipe for disaster.

“Any time a vehicle begins sinking in water, any occupants are in serious trouble,” Alston said. “Even an able-bodied adult will often find it difficult or impossible to escape, let alone a small child.”

The accident occurred at about 2 p.m., as parents and school buses were in the process of bringing children home from nearby Sawgrass Elementary School. Tari Denehy, 54, was driving her SUV with four children inside when she accelerated for unknown reasons and crashed into Bacheler’s car. Three other vehicles, including a school bus carrying 11 children, were entangled in the crash.

Denehy’s car went into the canal, but stopped upright, and she and the four children escaped without incident. But Bacheler’s car was upside-down and sinking. Bacheler and his older son Jacob quickly escaped, but the younger boy, James, was still inside when the car was submerged. Eyewitnesses said Bacheler was repeatedly diving under the water, trying and failing to free the boy, who was still strapped into his seat belt.

A number of nearby residents rushed to the scene, including retired firefighter Richard Aikman. Aikman told the Tampa Bay Times that a bystander threw his pocket knife some 20 feet to Bacheler, who caught it while treading water. Bacheler soon pulled the boy from the car. By that time, he was blue and had stopped breathing.

Paul Acklin, a karate instructor, began performing CPR on Jacob. He said he had learned CPR as a Boy Scout. As Acklin performed chest compressions, another woman gave the boy mouth-to-mouth. Within moments, Jacob started breathing and crying. Bacheler and the two boys were taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg and were listed in good condition.

Denehy was cited with careless driving.

“With so many children aboard the vehicles involved in this crash, it really is lucky no one was seriously injured,” Alston added. “Quick thinking and help from bystanders also played a big role in avoiding tragedy.”

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