LONGBOAT KEY, Fla. (WFLA) — Five people, including children, were rescued from frigid waters on Sunday after their canoe overturned in Longboat Key.
Captain Taylor Rahn with Ultimate Fishing Adventures says he was out with a client around Longboat Key when he saw a paddle in the air waving back and forth about 100 yards away from his boat.
When the 24-year-old captain got closer, he says he found three children and two adults floating in the water. He says the three kids were screaming and crying, and the two fathers who were with them were yelling for help.
“I reached down, grabbed one of the young boys and put him on the front deck,” Captain Rahn said. “And then I basically repeated that four times.”
Investigators tell us the five people were in the water for at least 40 minutes.
Once Rahn got everyone on his boat and gave them towels to warm up, he called 911 and rushed them to Cannon’s Marina. He says he’s familiar with the area and knew the marina would be a good spot to have emergency vehicles meet them.
When they got to the marina, Rahn says he stepped back and let the emergency crews take over.
“They told me, ‘You really saved their lives,'” Rahn said.
All five of the people Rahn rescued were taken to local hospitals as a precaution for hypothermia. The children, ages 5, 6 and 11, were taken to All Children’s Hospital. The two adults were taken to Blake Medical Center.
Rahn says he was wearing two jackets over a long-sleeve shirt to cope with the chilly air and wind, and can’t imagine how cold the group of five was sitting in the water.
“Someone was looking out for them and put us there at the right time and right place,” Rahn said. “This could have been a different outcome.”
The captain tells us he and his client were shocked to see the overturned canoe and discovered the five people who went overboard, but says he knew they needed to stay calm.
“We’re going to save their lives, we can’t be freaking out,” he said. “Instinct kicks in and at some point you just realize that if I’m not going to do it, there’s nobody else around to do it.”
“That’s somebody’s son, that’s somebody’s dad,” Rahn added. “You just have to really put them in front of you at that point and not be afraid to save somebody.”
Now, Rahn is hoping to connect with the five individuals and take them on a fishing trip. He says he knows how tragic something like this can be for young children, and doesn’t want them to be scared.
“I want to get them on a positive note when it comes to fishing and boating,” Rahn said. “Get the little guys back on board.”
The FWC is now investigating the incident.
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