News Releases

Taylor Co. FWC officers rescue 4 kayakers

News Release

Friday, April 27, 2012

Media contact: Karen Parker, 386-758-0525

It’s a Friday the 13th that Sherry Kelly will remember for a while, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officials.

According to Kelly, from Tallahassee, FWC Lt. Scott Lee and Officer Joshua Bembry of Taylor County came to the rescue April 13 when Kelly and her group ran into trouble after launching their kayaks at Cabbage Creek on the Econfina River near Perry.

The group of people thought they could make the six-mile trek to the park within a couple of hours.

“We ran into trouble with log jams and went around a couple, thinking that we’d be in open water again soon,” Kelly said in an email to FWC commending the officers for their assistance. “Unfortunately, many log jams and gators challenged us as we dragged our kayaks through the dark waters, up over log jams and through the woods.”

Exhaustion set in around the two-mile mark and the group called 9-1-1.

“Lt. Lee talked with me on my cell, reassuring me that he knew the woods well. We gave him GPS coordinates, and he said he was within a few miles. He sounded his siren so that we could know he was close,” Kelly said.

The kayakers’ GPS had made all the difference, according to Lee.

“Ms. Kelly gave me her coordinates, and I was able to find their location on my computer. I knew where they were and we were able to get very close to the kayakers,” Lee said. “If they hadn’t had a GPS, the search would have taken much longer. They were unfamiliar with the river and weren’t able to tell me where they were. I’d recommend carrying a GPS whenever you’re on the water or hiking in the woods.”

Lee and Bembry walked along the river bank until reaching the four kayakers and then guided them to waiting vehicles, where FWC officers returned the group.

“If they had not found us, we would most likely have been in the woods all night without a tent or adequate provisions,” Kelly said. “One gentleman with us was a diabetic, so it could have been worse. Many thanks for their professionalism, compassion and polite attitudes. Lt. Lee obviously knew exactly how to handle the situation. Please accept our heartfelt praise for their timely assistance.”

Maj. Roy Brown, FWC regional commander, also had high praise for his officers.

“I heard the rescue on the radio when it was going on and I knew it was in good hands,” Brown said. “When folks are lost, stranded and scared, it’s good to know that we have competent professionals who are responsible and know what needs to be done.”

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Sailfish live for about 5 years.

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