Steven Peterson. Credit: Shared with WINK News.

Man pulled from water off Marco defies odds and lives

A Southwest Florida man, who was found virtually lifeless in the water off Marco Island, is recovering after doctors gave him little chance of survival. But he has defied the odds.

An off-duty hospital technician was one of the people who found Steven Peterson floating face down in the water near Marco Island Yacht Club a few weeks ago.

First responders pulled Peterson’s lifeless body out of the water, and, soon, many of the people who helped rescue Peterson realized they also knew him personally.

“The call came out; I drove over the bridge and confirmed that, ‘Yes. I can see the Jet Ski. There is no rider on it,’” said Collier County Deputy Susan Boylan, a family friend who responded to the scene.

While Boylan was on her way home, she responded to the call she will never forget and never expected.

“They were pulling him out of the water,” Boylan said. “When they pulled him out of the water, he was purple.”

And the person in the water was Peterson, her son’s best friend of about 14 years.

Peterson’s friend Casey Canady and Amy Russeto were among those who spotted him, but they were too shaken to speak to us on camera for an interview or provide comment.

Peterson’s best friend, CJ Muntwyler was able to share details about their friend being pulled from the water in extremely poor condition.

“He said he didn’t even recognize him,” Muntwyler said. “That was when Amy showed up and was like, ‘Wow, that’s Steven. Casey didn’t know. He thought it was just some guy.”

Peterson’s family told us he flatlined twice the day he was rescued and taken to the hospital, but, because Canady and Russetto did CPR, it saved him.

Doctors put Peterson in an induced coma for nearly three weeks.

“He had a 5-percent chance of living,” Muntwyler said. “And they told his father be prepared to be making arrangements for him to be pretty much mentally handicapped for the rest of his life.”

Muntwyler said doctors and modern medicine didn’t account for the fact that Peterson is a fighter.

His friends told us doctors hope he will participate in a study, since his ability to defy the odds he was given is being considered a medical miracle.

Peterson’s family told us he is in California recovering, and he hopes to be back in Southwest Florida by January.

“Everyone who knows him, which is almost everybody,” Muntwyler said. “He’s always dancing and smiling just a good person.”

Reporter:Jerrica Valtierra
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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