Florida Man Films Himself Swimming Through Hurricane Ian to Save Handicapped Mother

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Shocking, heartbreaking footage continues to emerge in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. One video taken during the height of the massive Category 4 storm shows a Florida man swimming through rising storm surges to rescue his 85-year-old mother.

The footage of the man’s near half-a-mile-long swim shows him wearing a life vest, a bucket hat to keep off falling rain, and an apple watch. Throughout the video, he updates viewers, tracking the time and distance.

“We’re in like four feet of water, and I’ve been swimming forever,” Johnny Lauder, a Naples, FL resident, tells viewers. Keeping himself in good spirits, he added, “We’re arriving to Grandma’s—or, I’m arriving to Grandma’s.”

According to CNN, Lauder began the trek to his mother’s home after Hurricane Ian began filling her house with water. He left his own place after the woman called him in a panic.

Former Rescue Diver Arrives in the Knick of Time to Save His Mom

Upon Lauder’s arrival, a still from the footage shows just how terrified his mother was as floodwaters entered her home. In speaking with CNN, Lauder revealed his mother utilizes a wheelchair and has just one leg. Sharing an update about two or three hours after arriving at his mother’s home, Lauder took in his mother lying on a table. Lauder shows her wrapped in blankets and towels “so she doesn’t go into hypothermia.”

“She only has one leg,” he continued, “so it’s going to be very difficult trying to get out of here. She basically lost everything.”

In recording the clip, Lauder revealed that given the state of his mother’s home, it’s likely he lost everything to Hurricane Ian as well. He told the outlet that his residence lies even closer to the water.

During one of the station’s recent news segments, Lauder reflected on his trek through Hurricane Ian’s floodwaters and storm surges.

“You can’t let stuff go through your mind,” he told the anchorwoman. “I just wanted to get there. I knew time was of the essence, and she was running out of time…If you let your thoughts get into your mind, it’ll slow you down, you’ll hesitate, you won’t make it so I just tried to push [them] off to the side.”

Fortunately, Lauder wasn’t totally inexperienced when he set out to save his mom from Hurricane Ian. While speaking with CNN, it was revealed Lauder used to be a former police officer and rescue diver.

Upon finding his mom chest deep in water, the Floridian said he felt both relief at finding his mom alive but fear that she might be hurt.

Hurricane Ian Death Toll Surpasses 100

Johnny Lauder is one of the lucky people who managed to survive Hurricane Ian’s dangerous winds, storm surges, and severe flooding. However, others weren’t so fortunate.

Nearly a week after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida, authorities have recorded more than 100 deaths as a result of the Cat 4 storm.

99 of the fatalities have been reported in Florida, with 54 in Lee County, one of the regions worst struck by Hurricane Ian.

In addition, more than 430,000 Hurricane Ian survivors remain without power.