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Broward honors heroes who dove into ocean to help swimmers in danger

One Pompano Beach resident lost his live

Broward awards medal of valor to heroes in ocean rescue
Broward awards medal of valor to heroes in ocean rescue

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – Mayor Steve Geller and the Broward County commission honored two men with medals of valor Tuesday — one who is still with us and one who isn’t

Gary Cappellucci and Saul Trujillo both put their lives in danger Jan. 1 to save a group of people stuck in a rip current off Pompano Beach.

Cappellucci, 50, died trying to make the rescue.

Cappellucci, of Pompano, was on the beach with his family when he noticed some children and their parents struggling in the water. He jumped in and tried to save them.

“He was selfless. He’s a hero,” his son Zachary Cappellucci said Tuesday. “It’s like a horror story. Nothing you want to be a part of.”

Trujillo, who was on the beach that day with his 8-year-old daughter, saved a child and several adults using an inner tube that he attached to his surfboard.

He too almost drowned as he swam parallel to the shore pulling people to safety.

“We wanted to do a beautiful start to 2021, and this ended up happening, which makes us stronger,” Trujillo said. “Makes me and my daughter stronger to face whatever is coming up.”

Trujillo said it was very tough to process that Cappellucci didn’t survive the rescue effort.

At Tuesday morning’s commission, meeting Mayor Geller placed one medal around Trujillo’s neck and the other on the neck of Cappellucci’s son.

“I’m very honored to accept it on his behalf,” Zachary Cappellucci said.

A GoFundMe page to support the Cappellucci family has raised over $54,000.

About the Author:

Annaliese Garcia joined Local 10 News in January 2020. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami, where she studied broadcast journalism. She began her career at Univision. Before arriving at Local 10, she was with NBC2 (WBBH-TV) covering Southwest Florida. She's glad to be back in Miami!