Florida man can't swim, but jumped into lake to avoid arrest, deputies say

A Sarasota man – who is unable to swim – was rescued after trying to escape from law enforcement officials by jumping into a lake, deputies said.

On Friday, just after 11 a.m., a call about a suspicious person brought Sarasota County Deputy C.J Sunderman to Burnt Branch Circle and Greystone Lane. 

He encountered 18-year-old Richard Garay, who was entering a van along the road, deputies said.

As backup arrived the Garay ran and jumped into a lake to get away. 

"I know I looked over and it just kind of startled me at first," he told FOX 13. 

It turned out to be a bad decision. 

After making it halfway across the lake, the man starts to go under. The sheriff's chopper captured it all. 

"All of a sudden he just lost all kind of strength...he began to go under and not resurface," said Deputy Sunderman. 

Captain John Walsh was in the area and jumped in first with Deputy Sunderman following close behind. 

As Captain Walsh reached Garay he was already going under. 

"As soon as we saw that our instincts kicked in our training kicked in. Didn’t even think twice," said Deputy Sunderman. 

They worked together to bring him up and get him out. It wasn't until Deputy Sunderman got the man out of the lake and brought him to the hospital that he found out the Garay didn't know how to swim. 

"When I left the hospital as I was leaving on Friday he did say thank you to me and to everyone that was there," said Deputy Sunderman. 

Garay admitted he entered the lake to avoid being arrested on several warrants, deputies said. He was taken into custody for resisting without violence and contempt of court. 

For Cpt. Walsh and Deputy Sunderman "it was just another day on the job," said Deputy Sunderman. 

"No matter what if you are a criminal if you are in distress we are going to save you. We are going to save your life it doesn't matter. It’s what we are trained to do. It’s part of the job.”