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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Local man turns hero while on vacation

Friday, July 21, 2006

A Florida vacation has turned a local man into a hero.

Mark Coghill has lived in Greencastle for five years. He's married and has four kids. Coghill, a stay-at-home dad, also volunteers his time delivering meals for the senior center every week.

The self-described fishermen and hunter doesn't think he leads an exciting life, in fact he says it's a "pretty boring life actually."

So, when he went on vacation to Florida, he didn't think anything would change. That was until he went fishing on Fort Myers Pier about a month ago.

Coghill had just called his wife and asked her to bring him a sandwich. It was their first day on vacation and they were spending it fishing on the pier when he and the other hundred people around the pier saw a man being drug out into the middle of the ocean by his fishing pole.

"The fish was kind of pulling him out," Coghill said.

The fish, which later was revealed as a shark, pulled this man 10 or 15 yards out into the ocean. Coghill said people were yelling at the man and asking him if he knew how to swim. The young man, who was from the country of Brazil and didn't know much English, motioned back that he didn't know how to swim to the onlookers.

Coghill said no one did anything to help this man. The person who had asked him if he knew how to swim just gave him this look as if "that's just too bad" for him.

Coghill, who has a bad back, grabbed a boogie board and walked all the way out on the pier and then swam out and grabbed the panicking man and got him over to a buoy while they waited for help from the Coast Guard.

"I was kind of amazed nobody else swam out to help him," Coghill said. "I wasn't going to let him sit there and drown in front of a bunch of people."

In fact, he didn't even think twice about jumping in the water and helping the man out. It turned out this 16-year-old from Brazil wasn't just pulled into the middle of the water by just any fish, but by a five-foot-long shark. And no one ever knew why he just wouldn't let go of his fishing pole.

The young man, who had asked if he was going to die, was able to express his gratitude to Coghill. He said the man thanked him over and over again for saving his life.

Coghill later found out from the Coast Guard that what he did was pretty dangerous, but he says what he did was just instinctive. Although he doesn't have any rescue training, he said, he has swam his entire life and he just loves the water.

Coghill's story made him a celebrity for a short time in Florida.

The story of the rescue was recounted in The News-Press of Southwest Florida newspaper and also on area television reports.

So, after an exciting day, in Coghill's self-proclaimed boring life, what did he do? He decided to pack up and leave the pier. That was enough excitement for one day.

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