A man who risks his life to save another is rare

Kauai and the world could use more people like Tommy Passarella.

Not only did he save a life, he risked his own to do it. Imagine putting your life on the line for someone you don’t even know. Few people would. Tommy Passarella is one of them. The right man was in the right place at the right time. Call it fate, if you will. We’ll call Passarella a man of character and courage we could all emulate for his actions that day.

Let’s explain, briefly what this humble hero did.

In late July, at Larsen’s Beach, Harold Sperazza and Melanie Lyte were snorkeling at Larsen’s Beach. Both were suddenly swept out toward open waters by a strong current. Lyte was pulled farther out and away from Sperazza.

Passarella was on the beach that morning, a beach he hadn’t been to in four years, when he heard, he said, what sounded like a seal in distress. He listened and he heard it again. Somebody was crying out for help.

Passarella saw someone floundering out there, waving and shouting. While another person ran to call for help, Passarella grabbed the yellow rescue tube and headed into the rough waters. He describes himself as a poor swimmer, perhaps a three out of 10. The instructions on the rescue tube even caution would-be heroes to not rush out with one if you’re not a strong swimmer. Yet, Passarella went anyway. He kept swimming and kicking and paddling until he reached the man in trouble and offered him one end of the rescue tube. A thankful, surprised and relieved Sperazza grabbed it and held on tight as they paddled and fought their way through dangerous conditions toward land. They made it.

Sperazza said without a doubt, Passarella saved his life. And Lyte was rescued, too, by county personnel.

What could have been a tragedy was not.

Sperazza could have been another drowning victim in waters around Kauai if not for Passarella, who is a rare man, indeed. We need more like him. Imagine if all of us had his courage and character. When someone posts negative comments on social media or talks stink about someone, you can rest assured they’re lacking what Tommy Passarella has in abundance. Tell such folks to be like Tommy. Let’s follow his lead.

You want to change the world? He just show you how it’s done. Will everyone be a hero and save a life? No. But can everyone carry out simple acts of kindness? Yes.

So thank you, Tommy Passarella. And thank you, too, to the Rescue Tube Foundation for posting an estimated 250 rescue tubes around Kauai. You not only saved a life, you set an example of bravery and selflessness that is unparalleled. Please, don’t ever change.

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