Florida deputy makes daring water rescue during Tropical Storm Barry
Recently released body cam video shows a Florida deputy attempting a dangerous rescue in rocky waters.
Deputies Robert Wagner and Daryl Culberson were trying to help boaters in distress Friday in Destin’s East Pass when a large wave plowed over the bow, striking and shattering the windshield’s glass, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
The bad weather was caused by Hurricane Barry when it was still a tropical storm, OCSO said.
In the video, Wagner can be seen maneuvering the boat through the choppy water, waves splashing against the windows. The rising wave — which Wagner described to be around 12 feet tall — is visible in the background.
“We got another big one coming in...big one,” Wagner is heard saying.
Then, the wave hits, smashing the windshield into pieces, covering the body cam.
“I knew it would hit the boat hard,” Wagner said to the Miami Herald. “I didn’t anticipate the glass breaking in.”
Culberson wasn’t hurt, but Wagner’s face and body were cut by the glass. He didn’t even notice until he turned the boat around, he said.
He had water in his eyes. When he went to wipe it away, he felt the glass on his face, felt the cuts, and saw the blood.
The safety glass did what it was supposed to, he said, and broke into tiny pieces. His injuries were minor and didn’t need stitches.
The boat wasn’t unstable, but without the windshield, Wagner knew their 25-foot boat would take water quickly under the dangerous conditions.
Thankfully, by this point, the Coast Guard was only a few minutes away from reaching the boaters.
Wagner has 30 years of experience in law enforcement and has been with OCSO for three years. He’s never seen such a large wave before, but the incident hasn’t fazed him.
“We deal in bad weather,” he said. “We safeguard human life...we do that on a regular basis and it’s the better part of law enforcement. It’s what we do.”
Those on the boat were rescued by the Coast Guard and are expected to be OK.