Stranded Boaters Rescued By FWC Officers

By: Garin Flowers; FWC Release Email
By: Garin Flowers; FWC Release Email

By Garin Flowers
July 11, 2013

Taylor County, FL - A group of boaters on July Fourth had their plans washed out on a local river, along with the people who tried to rescue them.

The boat flipped over and left them all stranded in a local river.

The Econfina River... With a scenic view, it's a popular boating site, but also the site of where three Georgia men faced a close call.

"I will not put my boat in water when it's that rough."

Donnie Kilgore lives near the river. He says the high waves and high water near the mouth of the river caused the boat to flip.

Donnie Kilgore: "It was taking on water, but they kept on going because the jack plate wouldn't let down when finally the boat sank."

Some boaters at the ramp showed us where it happened. The men were stranded near this island, about two miles from where they started.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife responded to the scene and saved the three.

FWC Officer: "Once our guys were notified they headed out there and were able to make a rescue."

During rescue efforts, two good Samaritans tried to help out as well, but ran into trouble themselves and needed saving."

"We applaud them for trying to help out...and our guys were able to save them as well."

Donnie Kilgore: "People need to be careful it's too many people drowning out here in boat accidents because they're not paying attention not only to the weather but to the waves."

Kilgore helped to retrieve the boat after it capsized.

Press Release: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Three Georgia men were rescued by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers July 4 at the mouth of the Econfina River and the Gulf of Mexico.

Another FWC officer rescued two people who had attempted to assist the men in the water but whose own boat ceased running and was filling with water.

Ryan J. Hall (DOB 09/03/90) from Pavo, Ga.; Blake E. Bynum (DOB 10/16/86) of Moultrie, Ga.; and Daniel E. Powers (DOB 09/21/85), Thomasville, Ga., were in the water after their boat capsized in rough weather.

The Taylor County Sheriff’s Office asked for assistance with the three men in the water and FWC officers Chad Albritton, Randy McDonald and Jerry “Lee” Yates, under the leadership of Lt. Scott Lee, responded.

Albritton was on water patrol in an 18-foot, open-patrol vessel in the Keaton Beach area, approximately 25 miles away. McDonald and Yates were en route to water patrol with a 22-foot boat. Lee, the Taylor County supervisor, was preparing for both a holiday weekend on the water and managing boating safety enforcement efforts for the opening week of scallop season.

Albritton headed to the Econfina River through rough 2- to 3-foot seas in his small, open boat. McDonald and Yates launched their vessel at the Econfina River boat ramp in search of the three men. Lee coordinated communication efforts with the men from the capsized vessel and the officers involved in the rescue.

McDonald and Yates arrived first in the area and began searching the rough seas. They quickly located Hall in the water, clinging to a marker, and Bynum and Powers with the capsized vessel. The three were rescued with minor injuries.

Another vessel had attempted to rescue the Georgia men, but it also ran into trouble. Alan Ray Hendricks (DOB 04/03/62) from Crawfordville, and his passenger aboard a 15-foot open boat, began taking on water when their engine broke down.

Albritton located Hendricks’ vessel near the other capsized boat, and these two boaters were also rescued and towed back to the boat ramp.

“Due to the quick action and teamwork of Lt. Lee and officers Albritton, McDonald and Yates, I firmly believe that three lives were saved that day,” said FWC Capt. Marty Redmond. “By exceptional ability, personal initiative and total dedication to duty, these four FWC law enforcement officers reflect great credit upon themselves and the FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement.”

Redmond has nominated the three officers for the FWC lifesaving award.

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