The past year has provided uplifting proof that there is no shortage of locals willing to risk their lives to help others in a uniquely South Florida jam: rescuing people who have driven off the road into a canal. Remember these heroes next time you hear someone badmouthing Miami and its rude citizens.
•November 4, 2000: Four Miami-Dade police officers -- Eduardo Garcia, Will Sanchez, Pedro Polo, and James McDonnell -- dived into a canal at SW Seventh Street and 122nd Avenue to rescue a nineteen-year-old woman trapped in her sinking Nissan. The car was submerged when the officers reached it. "She had been holding her breath, and by the time we'd gotten there she was on her last breath," Garcia told the Miami Herald.
•December 7, 2000: Off-duty Hialeah police Lt. Joe DeJesus jumped into a canal on Griffin Road in Broward at 11:00 p.m. to rescue a woman whose van had veered off the road. She was unhurt.
•January 12, 2001: Hialeah residents Jim Gentilesco, Jr., and Rene Abreu jumped into a canal at West 44th Place and Fourth Avenue when they saw a 40-year-old woman's car slip into the water.
•January 14, 2001: Hans Schaefer, Eduardo Suarez, and his father, Eduardo Suarez, Sr., swam to the bottom of a murky canal off NW 137th Avenue and 104th Street to reach a woman whose car had plunged into the water.