ACWORTH, Ga. - Two Floridians who fled to metro Atlanta to escape Hurricane Irma credit a local police department with helping them recover from a freak accident here that almost cost them their lives.
Theodore and Gloria Karadimos from Punta Gorda, Florida were staying at the Best Western in Acworth over the weekend as the storm pummeled Florida.
While they were trying to pull into the parking space outside their hotel room, Theodore accidentally hit the gas instead of the break and sent them flying into the hotel swimming pool.
Chief Wayne Dennard said the couple was terrified they would die in the car because neither one could swim.
“This couple was obviously fleeing from the storm and stressed from that. Then welcomed to our community, where you end up in a swimming pool,” Dennard said.
Hotel guests quickly jumped in to help, floating the bobbing Lexus to the shallow end. They were able to get Gloria, Theodore and their two dogs out of the car.
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Theodore told Sgt. Tamara Clayton that his foot slipped off the brake.
As Gloria was taken to a hospital, Clayton helped Theodore deal with getting a rental car, calling insurance, replacing medicine and then checking on Gloria.
“She quickly realized he was not in a mental state to do that so she went the extra 1 percent to help do that for this couple,” Dennard said.
The couple showed their appreciation to the department by feeding members of the shift twice. Channel 2’s Ross Cavitt spoke to them by phone as they were surveying damage to their Florida home.
“All the officers, they’re all outstanding. I can’t give them enough praise,” Gloria said.
“They were there during one of the hardest parts of our lives and made it bearable,” Theodore said.
Their home in Florida has some exterior damage, but is OK on the inside.
The couple said they are now considering moving to Acworth.
"We really are seriously thinking about moving up there because we feel they are part of our family from now on," Theodore said.
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