Florida

Medic leaps from chopper to rescue kayaking family stranded in lagoon at night, Florida cops say

Kayaking family lost in Florida lagoon at night gets rescued, video shows

A family kayaking on Mosquito Lagoon in Florida got lost Sunday night and was rescued after dark when a medic leaped from a helicopter to help them reach a boat, video posted by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office shows.
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A family kayaking on Mosquito Lagoon in Florida got lost Sunday night and was rescued after dark when a medic leaped from a helicopter to help them reach a boat, video posted by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office shows.

A family’s kayaking trip on a Florida lagoon turned into a nightmare on Sunday when darkness fell and the family struggled — unsuccessfully — to navigate back to shore, authorities said.

Lost in Mosquito Lagoon along the state’s Atlantic coast, the four kayakers called 911 to get help making their way back to dry land, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. The lagoon is west of Canaveral National Seashore and south of New Smyrna Beach.

“We just got turned around,” the person who called 911 said, according to a recording obtained by WKMG. “We’ve been going up and down these canals, and we have no idea where we’re at.”

Luckily, the two adults and the two children — 9 and 12 — were lost but not hurt in their stranded boats, the caller said.

“We’ve just got two little kids that need to pee,” the caller said. “Other than that, we’re fine.”

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Directions the dispatcher offered over the phone were of little use to the disoriented family, though.

“You’re not too far from where you need to go,” the dispatcher said in the recording. “But if you’re not physically there, it’s almost impossible to direct you.”

Authorities then sent out Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation boats to reach the family. But because of low tide, the boats couldn’t get to the stranded kayakers, the sheriff’s office said.

That’s when rescuers approached by air as well, using the sheriff’s office’s Air One helicopter crew. Once the crew was in the air overhead, the flight paramedic, Matt Brunelle, decided to jump out of the helicopter to reach the stranded family.

After leaping from the helicopter, Brunelle helped tug the kayakers about a quarter of a mile to a nearby rescue boat, the sheriff’s office said. The children were put into the rescue boat, while the two kayaks were hitched to the rescue boat so authorities could tow them to safety.

The rescuers and family made it back to shore, video shows, landing at JB’s Fish Camp.

No one was hurt during the rescue, though there was one minor mishap: Brunelle accidentally flipped over a kayak when he was trying to get in, the sheriff’s office said.

But that’s no matter, authorities said: “Still gets a 10/10 for effort,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook. “Great job!”

The sheriff’s office said the family was in the middle of the lagoon when they were rescued.

From the sound of it, the rescue made an impression on one of the children in the kayaks.

“I’m thinking about being a cop,” the boy says in the video, after clambering into the rescue boat.

Timestamps on footage the sheriff’s office posted suggest the rescue ended just after 2 a.m. on Monday morning.

Gary Pierce, a kayaker from Winthrop, Massachusetts, talks about safety precautions kayakers should take. Pierce was rescued by the Coast Guard in October of 2017 in Boston Harbor after he was beset by weather.

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