Mr. Petar Petrov, father of three, had a decision to make.
Mr. Petar Petrov grew up in communist Bulgaria. He was skilled with his hands and could fix anything. When he was a teenager his country gained its independence and, because of his skills, he obtained a plum job on a cruise ship as a mechanic.
Now, 17 years later, Mr. Petar Petrov had just driven his lifeboat from the stricken Costa Concordia to the shore and dropped off the 100 occupants.
It was midnight on the 13th of January 2012.
It was dark and the water was cold.
The problem was that there were still thousands of passengers aboard the stricken cruise ship which was listing more and more and threatening to capsize completely.
At 115,000 tons, Costa Concordia is three times the size of this vessel, the Bahamas Celebration.
So, Petar Petrov, father of three, decided to return and held his lifeboat alongside the unstable cruise ship while another group of passengers boarded. And for six hours, he drove back and forth, returning each time until there were no passengers left. It was only when the sun started to warm the eastern sky and the Coast Guard told Mr. Petrov that they would now assume control did he remain ashore. He was among the last three crewmembers to depart.
Why would he go back?
The captain didn’t go back.
The senior officers didn’t go back.
He wasn’t ordered to go back.
Yet he did.
The European Parliament has awarded him their highest award for citizens of the EU for his heroism.
Petar Petrov risked his life and saved hundreds. And I believe that spark of excellence is in everyone.