Jet skier rescued from waters of Old Tampa Bay, exhausted but okay

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Tired, crying and spitting salt water, Laura Lebruna, 23, spent two to three hours treading water in the bay about a mile from shore, just north of the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

“I just flipped over and I was lost for like, three hours in the ocean and she just was found so fast, and I thought she died. Like, I was freaking out and then they found me,” said Lebruna, standing at the boat ramp with her friend and fellow jet skier Dena Seacord.

Lebruna and Seacord set out to jet ski in the bay. They didn’t count on a storm to push through, creating waves that threw both of them off the jet ski and into the water.

“Yes, we should have watched your weather channel,” said Seacord.

A second pair of jet skiers rescued Seacord right away.

“I don’t know how, or explain how, but I saw her like two miles or three miles away. I could just see like, her fingers or like her hand just waving back and forth,” said Nohemy Aguila.

They lost track of Lebruna, frantically searching the churning bay for any signs of her.

“I was trying to swim and the waves were pushing me back no matter where I tried to go. Towards the bridge, towards back home, like, I was just stuck in the middle,” said Lebruna.

Several agencies started an all-out search in the water and from the sky, including a chopper from the nearby Coast Guard air station in Clearwater.

Lebruna waved as it passed overhead. The crew didn’t see her.

She took off her flotation device because it was around her head.

“I was freaking out. I was so surprised I was alive. I really thought I was gonna die. I was like praying to God at a point like, thinking that was it,” she said.

“It was scary. Everything happened so fast, but our instincts worked really well to help out our friends and and everybody, the rescue team, everybody worked out,” said Aguila.

After two hours of scanning the water, good news. A crew from Clearwater Fire Rescue found Lebruna.

“We’re glad to have a positive outcome. We were definitely concerned when they said she’d been missing for two hours. That’s troubling news, but we did find her and locate her and she’s going to be okay,” said Assistant Fire Chief Tim Sparrow.

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