PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office helicopter captured a dramatic water rescue on camera, as deputies in the air, on land and on the water worked to save the struggling boater.
The incident happened shortly before 3 p.m. on Sept. 15.
Investigators say the man was in his 18-foot vessel off the shores of Pass-A-Grille Beach when he hit a wave which caused him to lose balance and fall overboard. Sgt. Ron Blair explains, he was too far off shore to swim in.
“He’s about a half mile out, he’s treading water,” said Sgt. Blair. “Luckily his cell phone is working and he was the one who was able to call 911.”
Deputies on a marine unit tossed the man a rope and pulled him to safety. Meanwhile, his boat circled out of control, getting closer and closer to the beach. One of the deputies on the aircraft communicated that to a ground deputy.
“When you get down there, looks like there’s some people in the water near the beach,” said the deputy over the radio. “Might want to get on the PA or yell over to them that they may want to get out of the water so they don’t get hit by that boat.”
Once the marine deputies got the man on their craft, they went after his. They pulled up beside it, boarded it, and piloted it to safety.
Sgt. Blair is pleased with the outcome, but believes there are lessons to be learned here.
“He should have been wearing his life jacket or had one accessible to him,” said Sgt. Blair. “But he also should have been wearing his kill cord. (It’s) the cord that attaches to the ignition that you can attach to yourself so if you do happen to lose balance and exit the vessel, the vessel engines will shut off.”
The boater did not suffer any injuries, but declined our request for an interview.