Collier County Sheriff’s Office rescues kayaking tourists trapped in the Everglades

Published: March 10, 2021 5:49 AM EST
First responders bringing lost kayakers onto a rescue helicopter. Credit: Collier County Sheriff's Office

Firefighters and Collier County Sheriff’s deputies hoisted a New York couple to safety Monday night after the couple got lost while kayaking during a day trip in the Everglades.

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office’s Aviation Bureau was called to help locate the couple, who were unable to find their way out of the muddy backwaters after taking a wrong turn.
The couple, both 67, told deputies they were on vacation from New York. Around 9:30 a.m., they rented two kayaks from an Everglades City business and were dropped off at the Turner River Canoe Launch on US-41 East near Turner River Road. They were given maps and guidance for their solo trip.

At some point after heading south, they took a wrong turn either in the backwaters of Halfway Creek or Left Turner Branch and got stuck when low tide hit around 5:15 p.m. They soon called 911 to report they were lost but not in distress. Emergency dispatchers were able to get only limited information from the couple, but they were able to find GPS coordinates for their possible whereabouts.

A team effort which included the Greater Naples Fire Department, the National Park Service and North Collier Fire Department tracked down the couple via the kayak rental business.
CCSO’s Air 1 Huey rescue helicopter was deployed, carrying Pilot Lt. Dennis De Rienzo, Co-Pilot Cpl. Joe Andreasen and Crew Chief Cpl. Josh White, along with North Collier Fire Rescue Specialists ENG Mason Bellamy and Lt. Brent Loewel. The crew flew to the couple’s last known GPS coordinates and located them around 7:30 p.m., about 10 miles from where they began their journey.

The couple was flown to Everglades Airport, where they were checked by paramedics and found to not have any injuries.

Watch the CCSO footage below or click here.