Sitting on the beach Sunday afternoon with her daughters, Kim Giuliani spotted lifeguards trying to help a young boy struggling in the water at Jupiter’s Ocean Cay Park.
He was swimming in the same area where her husband still was.
The Palm Beach Gardens woman watched as they rescued the boy, along with several other people who were battling rip currents pulling them away from shore.
“That’s when the sense of panic set in and I said ‘where’s Mark?’
“When they were pulling people in, I just kept waiting for him,” she said. “When they pulled the last person in and it wasn’t him, I just knew he was still out there.”
A short time later, after Giuliani filed a missing person’s report and was frantically searching for her husband, two surfers found Mark Giuliani, 53, about a mile from where he was swimming.
He was taken to Jupiter Medical Center in critical condition. He died Tuesday morning.
“I don’t understand, I wish I knew. … He’s a big, strong, healthy man,” said Giuliani, 46. “The rip current must have just pulled him. I never saw him in distress. I never saw him struggling in the water.”
Giuliani was one of at least 16 swimmers pulled from Palm Beach County beaches Sunday. The couple detoured to Ocean Cay Park after not being able to access their usual beach, Juno Beach, because of a road closure.
Ocean Cay Park is one of two unguarded county beach parks. The other is Ocean Ridge Hammock Park.
Kim Giuliani said her family didn’t know there was a risk of rip currents because there weren’t any warning signs posted. The couple’s daughters, 8 and 9, had gotten out of the water moments before trouble set in. One of them had even said she had trouble doing so.
Mark Giuliani was familiar with the ocean as he swam in it for exercise and spent many summers at the Jersey Shore. The beach was a place the couple enjoyed, and Sunday was a family celebration of their daughters receiving their first communion Saturday. Other family members and friends from out of town were with them Sunday to celebrate.
Mark Giuliani, a Connecticut native who was an associate at a law firm in Fort Lauderdale, enjoyed composing music and spending time with his family.
Co-worker Joe Slama, a partner at Krupnick Campbell Malone Buser Slama Hancock Liberman & McKee, P.A., described Giuliani as a regular guy who was “extremely eloquent” and a “gentleman.”
“He could draft an appellate brief while preparing for a complex deposition for trial. He’d be talking to somebody about his music project … but he’d be ready to go if you wanted to go out after the day and have a beer,” Slama said.
After a few minutes silenced by tears, Slama said he respected Giuliani for always putting his family first.
“And if he had to work late the girls would call,” Slama said. “They’d call him to tell him they got an A on their reading class. And you could hear him through the wall. He was as happy as if we had just won a million-dollar case.”
Gracie Valdes, a legal assistant who worked with Giuliani, agreed with Slama and said he “really strived” to have the work-life balance.
Giuliani was a lieutenant in the U.S. Army in the late 1980s, a captain with the U.S. Air Force and served as an officer and attorney in the Judge Advocate General’s department.
He left the Air Force in 1996 and then practiced with civil litigation defense firms in Connecticut. He relocated to Florida in 2005 and four years later joined the law firm, which specializes in product liability and aviation crash cases.
As a composer and arranger, Giuliani co-founded the Theatre Orchestra of Florida. He was the music director for Roberto Iarussi and recently completed an album recorded in London with the London Symphony Orchestra.
After the Sandy Hook tragedy in December, Giuliani turned to music to express his grief and wrote a song that was uploaded on YouTube.
“It’s beautiful. It will give you an idea of who he is,” Kim Giuliani said. “He was a really amazing musician. He was a composer and an arranger and a conductor. He was brilliant.”