tampabay.com

Man spends two days adrift before rescue

A casino boat finds a man clinging to a canoe about 10 miles west of Egmont Key.

By JACOB H. FRIES
Published June 29, 2007


A 49-year-old man spent more than two days clinging to his capsized canoe before being rescued miles off Egmont Key on Thursday night, authorities said.

When found by a casino boat about 8 p.m., the man was conscious and talking but dehydrated, sunburned and showing signs of shock, Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael Case said.

The man's name and hometown were not immediately released, and no one had reported him missing.

"It's really an insane case," Case said. "He's really lucky that this boat was going by when it did. Who knows if he would have made it through the night."

People on the Big "M" Casino boat spotted the man stranded about 10 miles west of Egmont Key and pulled him on board, Case said.

The man said he had gone canoeing alone Tuesday from Fort De Soto Park in southern Pinellas County. A thunderstorm capsized the boat.

The man had been clinging to the overturned canoe ever since -- at least 50 hours in all, Case said.

Stacy Langrock, 25, of Holiday came to the front of the casino boat as its engines shut down and the boat slowed alongside the man. She said she talked with him as he waited to be pulled on board.

"He said, 'I've been out here since 2 o'clock on Tuesday. My car is still in Fort De Soto. My oars are gone,'" she said.

Langrock and her husband, Adam, said the man's face was sunburned bright red and his hands were white from the water. He had a life jacket, but it was tied to the boat.

"He was all fried up," said Adam Langrock, 26. "He was definitely a-hurting. He was an older guy and struggling out there."

The man told passengers that he had helplessly watched many boats pass by, none of which had seen him.

Medical personnel on the casino boat treated the man and called the Coast Guard, which dispatched a 41-foot boat to retrieve him and to bring him to shore, Case said. Officials planned to take the man to a local hospital for evaluation.

The temperature of the water in the area was about 80-85 degrees, cold enough to bring on hypothermia if immersed for such a long time, Case said.

Jacob H. Fries can be reached at jfries@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8872.