SOUTH FORT MYERS
A man who risks his life to save others during the chaos of Hurricane Yang. One man decided to step out and help others, rescuing two couples from the Royal Woods area of south Fort Myers.
Austin Hayhurst insists he is no hero. “I really don’t have a better explanation than it had to be done. And I was able to do it. So I did it.”
The four people he helped save during Jan said he was a hero, and then some.
Caroline Colagero emailed WINK News about Hayhurst and his life-saving efforts in the Royal Woods area off Island Park Road.
“He was the hands and feet of God’s angelic army that literally came out of nowhere saving people whether he knew it or not. He was what he was that person,” Calogero said.
Tim Mitchell was the first person Hayhurst saved. He said he was trying to get his truck onto higher ground when floodwaters surrounded him.
“I was trapped in the middle of this parking lot where he came and pulled me out. He saved my life so we could save my wife’s life,” Mitchell said. “I punched a hole in my front door and then Austin punched a hole in it. He cut such a hole that my wife stepped through it. (I) fell face down into the water, and all the time it is pulling us. He whispered. “I was trained to do that.” that’s why he said we will survive.’
Along with Tim and Lisa Hayhurst saw Caroline and Michael Caloger. Caroline was wrapped around a telephone pole in Island Park Road. Michael was on the other side of the street, holding their dog Rogue as high as he could.
“We said over and over, ‘today is not the day we die,'” Michael Calogero said.
“I was ready to go. If I died today, it would be okay. But I didn’t want to leave my children without a mother,” said Caroline Calogera. “And then I heard my hand float up to my hand. and it was Austin. He appeared out of nowhere. And I swam up to his hand and he lifted me from my head to where I could touch my chest. And he said, “Stay here.” I will go help your husband.’
Hayhurst found Michael and ended up sending both couples to an asylum. Both couples lost all their possessions, but not their lives, and now their bond is unbreakable.
“We make our own plans, but God has a different plan. And I think the gift and lesson from that experience for me was that even though we lost, it was all material, but we made lifelong friendships,” said Lisa Doyle-Mitchell.
Hayhurst said his brother, Casey, also played a big role in saving people that day, but was unable to make it to the reunion.