17-year-old seizure victim meets St. Augustine woman who rescued him

Like the water he fished on 20 miles off the coast of Vilano Beach, what caused 17-year-old Taylor Spearman’s scare at sea last Thursday was underneath the surface.


In a single moment, he went from catching a fish to having a seizure.

“I mean, I really don’t remember much, I was reeling in a fish and I guess I blacked out,” Taylor says.

Taylor says he’d gone out on the water with his brother-in-law before 5:00 AM to fish all day, both short on sleep and water to drink. He tells Action News Jax he felt normal up until the point he started reeling in a red snapper.

Taylor’s dad, Adam, was in Gainesville when his daughter called to tell him what happened.

“Her words were, ‘don’t freak out, but…,’ and, of course, I immediately freaked out.” says Adam, “I made my way [back home] as fast as I possibly could.”

The Spearman family says it seemed like Taylor fainted the moment he started reeling in the fish, beginning to fall backward. When Taylor’s brother-in-law caught him as he fell, Taylor started having a seizure.

His brother-in-law then made an emergency call on the radio. It was answered not long after by a couple from St. Augustine, but, in the heat of the moment, the family says they never really found out who rescued Taylor.

That’s until his dad turned to a local Facebook group, and cast a line.

“I thought, maybe if I put it out there, somebody would know them,” says Adam.

Adam wasn’t expecting a bite, but caught the very people who may have saved his son’s life, Patrick Barthel and Aleia Jureski. Action News Jax’s Finn Carlin met with them to ask about the rescue.

Finn Carlin: “Was there ever any hesitation when you heard that call?”

Aleia Jureski: “Nope, never, not for me.”

Barthel and Jureski had heard the call on the radio while fishing almost 10 miles away.

“Once we got the call that there was somebody seizing on a boat, we immediately put the location into our GPS and responded,” Jureski says.

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Barthel and Jureski sped to the Spearman’s boat and hopped on as soon as they got there. Jureski used her medical training to help Taylor until they met St. Johns County Fire Rescue back at the Vilano boat ramp

Taylor was taken to Flagler Health Hospital and now tells Action News Jax he’s feeling okay after a follow-up appointment earlier today. After some messages back and forth over Facebook, Action News Jax coordinated a meeting between the two families this afternoon.

Taylor says he doesn’t remember much of what happened, but his family won’t soon forget meeting the woman who saved him face-to-face.

“It was a rough day as a parent, but it all worked out, and it’s an even better day because I got to meet [Barthel and Jureski] and thank them, personally,” says Adam.

As for Barthel and Jureski, they hope to inspire others to always answer the call for help.

“Pay attention. Always pay attention,” says Barthel, “if there’s something going on, listen. If someone truly does need help, turn around and go back.”

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