Homosassa missing boater found alive - WFLA News Channel 8

Homosassa missing boater found alive

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Dora Steed was taken to Seven Rivers Medical Center in Crystal River. Dora Steed was taken to Seven Rivers Medical Center in Crystal River.
Ernest Croft found the missing diver Friday morning. Ernest Croft found the missing diver Friday morning.

It’s clear that Ernest Croft isn’t all that comfortable with the word “hero” to describe himself.

But, what else do you call a man who goes out in a boat in the middle of a raging thunderstorm with lightning crashing around him? He risked his life to find a woman he doesn’t even know. She was missing in the water.

Croft found her.

“I was just doing my job,” said the longtime captain. “My wife thinks I’m a hero.”

Captain Ernie, as they call him in Homosassa, went out with search groups from Citrus County, Florida Fish and Wildlife and the Coast Guard to find 49-year-old Dora Steed.

Dora was scalloping and snorkeling with her husband Thursday afternoon. When they were in the water, their boat drifted away. He swam a half mile to go get it. When he got back, she had vanished.

Turns out, Dora was treading water for twelve hours near Green Key Island.

She says she saw the lights from the multiple boats, but they couldn’t hear her screaming. She stayed alive by drinking rainwater from her goggles and hanging on to a PVC post in the water.

Captain Ernie searched all night. When he found her, it was a great moment.

“I seen her standing about waist deep, she had her flippers waving them, we got her in the boat and put a towel around her. Was she yelling? No, she was so far off, I wouldn't have heard her,” he said.

She didn’t cry. She didn’t complain. Dora was just happy to be wrapped in a blanket and rescued.

We asked Captain Ernie, “Any tears from her?” He told 8 On Your Side, ”Nope. She was smiling the whole time, she's a local girl, knew what she was doing, handled it real good.”

Dora was taken to Seven Rivers Hospital for treatment. She was dehydrated and tired.

She never let go of her scallops.

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