Jerald Bowman helped to save James R. Swanson from drowning, Titusville, Florida, April 16, 1997. In a wildlife refuge, Swanson, 50, was the driver of an automobile that left the highway, entered an adjacent canal, and began to submerge in the murky water, which was five feet deep. Traveling behind Swanson, Bowman, 30, quality inspector, and a co-worker saw the accident and stopped at the scene. They called out to Swanson as they waited for him to emerge from the car, and when he did not, the co-worker entered the water and waded toward the vehicle, which was about 30 feet from the bank. While he was en route, he and Bowman saw a seven-foot alligator swimming in the vicinity of the car. The co-worker continued to the car, then mounted it and broke out the rear window on the driver’s side with a hammer than Bowman had secured. Despite the alligator remaining in the canal in the immediate vicinity, Bowman then entered the water and waded and swam to the car. After he unlocked the driver’s door, he and his co-worker opened the door; the car instantly sank to the bottom of the canal, submerging Swanson. With difficulty, Bowman and his co-worker freed Swanson from the car. They returned him to the bank, the alligator remaining in close proximity. Swanson required hospital treatment. A wildlife officer shot and killed the alligator to allow safe access to the vehicle.
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