A rescued kayaker got the chance Thursday to meet and thank the first responders who saved his life last month.
On Feb. 6, Michael Bochniarz of Largo was fishing about a half-mile off the Indian Rocks Beach coast when conditions in the Gulf of Mexico became rough.
As Bochniarz attempted to pull up his anchor to return to shore, his kayak capsized, dumping him into turbulent 56-degree waters.
Bochniarz, 65, was unable to right his boat and quickly realized he was in trouble.
After first calling a friend and getting voicemail, he held his cell phone above the waterline and used voice activation to call 911.
Pinellas County telecommunicator Mackenzie Espinoza kept Bochniarz from panicking.
Supervisor Brian Gallaher input coordinates into a new system called RapidSOS that assists in locating wireless callers, and the county triggered a multi-partner emergency rescue.
Through the quick action of all involved, a rescue boat from Pinellas Suncoast Fire Rescue reached Bochniarz within 23 minutes of his call.