Palm Harbor man dies saving his drowning dog

Pinellas County, Florida -- A man and his best friend -- a relationship so close the man gives his own life to save his 3-year-old Yorky name Rascal.

"He loved golfing. He loved people. He had a lot of good friends," says Roy Carlson, John Patti's neighbor.

And among the friends on John Patti's pontoon boat Saturday afternoon was Rascal.

Roy says, "He usually takes his dog with him boating, usually on a leash. Not sure how he got off the leash, tricky dog."

While boating along Brooker Creek in Lake Tarpon Pinellas, deputies say Rascal jumped into the water.

"Mr. Patti jumped in the water after the dog. He saved the dog. He went underwater. The people on the boat couldn't find him. He disappeared," says Cristen Rensel with the Pinellas Sheriff's Office.

Dive teams searched into the night. Around 8:15 this morning, a park visitor spotted his body. Patti's body was found along Brooker Creek just off the main Lake Tarpon area. Deputies and boaters alike will tell you this water is not the safest to swim in.

Rensel says, "The water here is very murky, very dark, a lot of debris underneath. Doesn't make it safe for our divers. [It's] hard to see."

Boaters say they won't swim in the creek because of the "alligators and bacteria" in the water.

An autopsy by the medical examiner will determine what caused Patti's death. Rensel says, "Our deputies say it appears to be an accident."

While the Buffalo, New York native saved his four-legged friend, his human friends are left mourning.

Roy says, "John was a great guy willing to help anybody out anyway he could. A real good friend. We're going to sure miss him."


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