Cecil Lerch died attempting to save Barbara J. Martin from drowning, Venice, Florida, June 16, 1962. When she waded into rough surf in the Gulf Of Mexico, Barbara, 10, was submerged by a breaker and carried away from shore. A very poor swimmer, she could make no progress and called for help. Cecil, 17, schoolboy, who had had little experience swimming in the surf, removed his shoes and entered the water. He swam with effort toward Barbara but was forced off his course by the strong undercurrent and waves about five feet high. Cecil was swept beyond Barbara, passing within 10 feet of her, and then tried to remain afloat as he was carried farther from shore. Jack R. Arnold was attracted and entered the water after removing his shoes. Knifing through the waves, he reached Barbara as she flailed her arms in the water 80 feet deep 95 feet from shore. After calming her, Arnold began to tow Barbara diagonally toward shore as the waves alternately lifted and lowered them. Arnold’s strength diminished rapidly as, swimming against the undercurrent, he towed Barbara 110 feet to within 25 feet of shore. Feeling he could swim no farther, he thrust her five feet to a man who had waded into the water wearing a life jacket. As the man took Barbara to shore, Arnold was carried away from it by the receding wave. Another breaker then swept him with some force onto rocks at the shore line. Gasping for breath, he climbed out of the water, nearly exhausted. Meanwhile, Cecil had been submerged by a wave 150 feet from shore and had not reappeared. Men in boats searched the area. A half an hour later Cecil appeared at the surface floating downward. He was brought to shore but could not be revived.
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