Good Samaritan alert: Taylor Street participant helps initiate water rescue

Good Samaritan Alert: Taylor Street Participant Helps Initiate Water Rescue

Every day, Jason Carpenter, Program Manager for the Taylor Street Center in San Francisco, California, sees positive examples that combat stereotypes many have of parolees. The most recent involves Taylor Street participant Joe Rodriguez, who helped initiate a water rescue that saved the lives of two local swimmers.

“Mr. Rodriguez told me about the incident, and I suggested he go back and get a letter from the authorities explaining what happened,” said Mr. Carpenter. “That way, people could hear about some of the positive things that happen with guys on parole rather than the negative things they typically hear. We generally encourage our residents to let us know about the good things they do.” Mr. Carpenter received the following letter from California Boating Law Administrator Ramona Fernandez recounting Mr. Rodriguez’s act of Good Samaritanism. On the morning of June 11 at San Francisco’s Aquatic Cove Park Pier, Mr. Fernandez wrote, Mr. Rodriguez identified two swimmers in distress outside the breakwater:

“Within five minutes, Joe Rodriguez saw the female swimmer signaling for help [and stated she] appeared in distress and needed help. The male swimmer was caught in the current and being pulled out to open water. Joe informed my husband to call 911 and yelled to the female swimmer that help was on the way.”

Good Samaritan Alert: Taylor Street Participant Helps Initiate Water Rescue

As they waited for the San Francisco Fire Department vessels to arrive, she wrote, “Joe Rodriguez was instrumental in communicating with the female swimmer that he had heard her call for help and aid was on the way. Joe Rodriguez’s awareness and observance played a key role in the safe rescue of the male swimmer, as he knew to watch him so he could assist first responders with the exact location.”

According to Mr. Rodriguez, being a fisherman, he knew the local waters and could immediately see something was wrong with the swimmers. “It’s a hard current that could take you out a couple of miles,” he said, “so I saw them stopping every so often just to get a breath of air, and it just didn’t look right.”

Now in program Phase 1, Mr. Rodriguez has been living at Taylor Street’s transitional housing facility since April 2021 and says having the chance to give back to the community in this way has been extremely motivating.

Good Samaritan Alert: Taylor Street Participant Helps Initiate Water Rescue

“I did almost 32 years in state prison for an incident I was involved in, so I was punished. I went through all that, but I changed my life around, and I committed myself to the change,” he said. “I think of what happened as a service; it was something I could do for someone else. I just understood what I had to do in the moment, and I took care of what I thought was right.”

Taylor Street is a residential reentry center run by GEO Reentry Services providing evidence-based rehabilitation programs for adults released to community supervision by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Services include cognitive behavioral treatment, substance abuse counseling, education and vocational preparation, employment assistance, mental health counseling, HIV/AIDS prevention, cultural diversity education and faith-based services.