Marion and Don Schofield present $500 checks to Ian Haddix and Evan Purcell, right, for their efforts in helping rescue two accident victims on May 13.
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA – The two men who pulled survivors out of an SUV that went off the Anna Maria Island Bridge and into Anna Maria Sound on May 13 were honored with checks from a Holmes Beach couple, who called them heroes.
Don and Marion Schofield contacted The Sun after reading about the efforts of Ian Haddix, of Bradenton, and Evan Purcell, of Holmes Beach. The two, who have grown up together as best friends, were grateful, but Purcell said he still regrets the fact that he was unable to save the third person in the Ford Expedition who died in the accident.
The two suffered minor injuries as they pulled Gregorio Lopez-Chavarria, 21, and Florentino Gonzalez-Doran to safety and were taken to the hospital. They said the money they received from Schofield, which was matched by The Island Sun, would go toward paying the $600 ambulance bill and impending emergency room bills.
Meanwhile, the two were grateful for being recognized.
"We are giving you this to show you how proud we are of you," Schofield said, as he presented each of them with a $500 check. "I did a tour of Korea and I saw how people react to different situations and you are definitely heroes."
Haddix and Purcell recalled what happened the night of the accident. They had been working late for Haddix’s brother, who has a luxury bus rental service, when they headed off the Island on their red motorcycles.
"We saw the hole in the bridge guardrail and went under the bridge to the water and heard somebody out there in trouble," Haddix said. "It was so dark and we aimed our headlights in that direction, but couldn’t see anything. Then we decided we’d better swim out there. I didn’t even think about it. I just jumped in."
Schofield talked about when he heard about the accident.
"Marion was at the church (Roser) and the preacher said the bridge had been closed all morning, which is why there weren’t as many people at church as there normally are," he said. "When I first read about it in the daily newspaper, I knew I wanted to thank you, but I didn’t know your names until The Sun came out."
"Don said they were heroes to me," Marion Schofield said. "I said I don’t think I would have jumped in there and I’m a swimming instructor."
Haddix said that in retrospect, one thing surprised him.
"I’m amazed that more people didn’t do what we did," he said. "There was a boat nearby, but they wouldn’t even shine their light in out direction when we asked them to."
"My father always told me to help someone in trouble," Purcell said. "When I got home, I couldn’t sleep so I talked to my mom, who was in New Jersey. At first, she thought we were involved in the accident."
"My dad told me afterward that he was proud to have me as a son," Haddix said.
The two remained humble about what they did, but Purcell drew a good analogy to what they did.
"I would hope someone would do it for me."