Off-duty deputy rescues Brevard County boaters

Sgt. Robert Vitaliano jumped in to save passengers in capsized boat

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MELBOURNE, Fla. - An off-duty Brevard County deputy rescued six boaters trapped underneath a capsized boat in Melbourne on Friday.

According to a release, Sgt. Robert Vitaliano was attending a wedding in front of the Front Street Park pavilion Friday afternoon when he heard a loud crash and saw a 24-foot vessel collide into the dock and capsize.

Vitaliano and several other guests jumped into the water and started pulling the elderly passengers ashore, when he realized there were boaters trapped under the hull.

Vitaliano coordinated a plan to lift the one side of the vessel to free the boaters. All six passengers were safely rescued.

"It was an instinctive reaction to a situation that a law enforcement officer is trained to deal with, regardless when it happens," Vitaliano said in a release.

"It's situations like this that make me proud to serve in a community where our law enforcement officers and citizens put the needs of others first and save lives," said Sheriff Jack Parker. "This event could have ended tragically if not for the quick actions of Rob and the citizens who came to the rescue".

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