BAY VILLAGE, Ohio – Jeremy Gillespie was standing on the patio of his Air Bnb in Hawaii on Friday watching a storm roll over the beach.
The 27-year-old Bay Village firefighter noticed as Maui County officials responded to several flooding incidents along the shore Jan. 27.
“Then, I saw them running into the ocean and could tell something was wrong,” he said.
Maui firefighter Tre Evans-Dumaran was swept into a storm drain and started to drown. He was recovered in the ocean by his crew approximately 50 yards away from shore, Gillespie said.
Gillespie, who has worked for the Bay Village Fire Department for approximately a year and previously with Cleveland EMS, said at first he thought the firefighters were recovering debris from the water but soon realized it was the body of Evans-Dumaran.
“I ran over and identified myself as a medic and asked how I could help,” he said. “He didn’t have a pulse at that moment, and the firefighters asked if I would help with CPR.”
Maui paramedics responded shortly after with an automated external defibrillator, but it failed because Evans-Dumaran’s body was too wet.
Others brought towels to dry the 24-year-old firefighter who regained a pulse. He was transported to Maui Memorial Medical Center, where he is in critical condition, according to county officials.
Gillespie said his faith in others was restored when people on vacation stopped to help.
“I was just doing what I was supposed to at the moment,” he said. “Seeing other people jump into action was great. People need to help people more often. That’s what we need more of in the world.”
Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen Jr. said the community is focused on the firefighter’s recovery and encouraged by his progress.
“So many in our community, myself and my own family as well, are holding Tre in our good thoughts and continuing to pray for his well-being,” he said.
“The days and weeks ahead will be important ones for him and his ‘ohana.’ “
Ohana means family in the Hawaiian culture.
In a statement, Fire Chief Brad Ventura said the department is grateful for the support of the community.
“Tre’s ‘ohana and our family of firefighters, together with our community are at his side in prayer and spirit to help him get through the difficult days ahead of recovery,” he said. “He’s not out of the woods yet, but every day brings hope and every day we offer our prayers to give him strength.”
Gillespie has not been in touch with those close to Evans-Dumaran or others who were at the scene on Friday, but he hopes everything turns out well.
“We’re firefighters. We’re a brotherhood,” Gillespie said. “I know he would have done the same for me.”