ALACHUA COUNTY, FL - Alachua County is very proud to communicate the heroic actions of Alachua County Fire Rescue Lt. John Riddling and his wife Alachua County Court Services Senior Account Clerk Cindy Riddling. On the morning of September 11, 2015, the Riddlings were on their boat fishing on Little Lake Santa Fe in Melrose, Florida when they heard distress calls coming from across a cove. They motored to the scene to find three individuals in the water, only one of which was wearing a life jacket. The three had abandoned their burning boat. The Riddlings called 911.
Lt. Riddling, while trying to put out the fire with his boat’s extinguisher, was implored by one of the rescued men to retrieve a backpack from the burning boat that contained heirlooms from his grandfather. Lt Riddling was able to reach into the burning boat and grab the bag before the boat was completely engulfed in flames.
The Riddlings transported the occupants to shore where they were turned over to the responding Alachua County Fire Rescue crew. They then shuttled the crew to the burning vessel.
After learning of the heroic response by the Riddlings, Alachua County Manager Lee A. Niblock said, “I am very proud of these two fine employees. That this incident happened on 9/11, when our country was honoring the first responders that sacrificed so much, made it all the more poignant.”
For more information, contact Alachua County Assistant Fire Rescue Chief Jeff Taylor at 321-243-5034.