Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office adds new aviation water rescue crew
CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. – A sailboat flipping in Charlotte County this week showcased why a new expansion at the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office can be life-saving.
“In any case, we went out and got distracted,” Joan and Scott Singer said. “We did some things we’ve never done before, and in the process our boat turned over.”
The Singer’s are pro sailors, with 10 years of experience. They set sail in Charlotte Harbor Monday afternoon on their vacation, and one small mistake sent them overboard.
“It seems like one of the things you would panic over, but you know we were holding onto the boat,” Joan Singer said. “Low and behold the phone was working and I called 911.”
They were met with the CCSO’s new calvary – the aviation water rescue crew.
“We got the call there was a capsized vessel with two subjects on board inside Charlotte Harbor, that’s our backyard,” Pilot Jonathan Bautista said.
“Once we were in Charlotte Harbor we were able to ID the victims in the water,” Chief Pilot Shane Engelauf said.
Once they found the Singer’s, Engelauf jumped out of the helicopter and into the water. It was the first real rescue mission for the aviation unit, which just recently added water rescue to its repertoire.
“This is a ton faster than boats can be and our perspective is much different,” Engelauf said. “Being at the ground level or water level you’re only seeing so much. We can go directly to a sinking vessel because we can see it 50 miles out.”
“It’s instant return when somebody is calling 911, I might die, and then we show up and obviously we do our best to turn that tide,” Bautista added.
The Singer’s said without CCSO, they could have been in a lot of trouble.
“The only damage, besides our pride, of course, was their phone and I believe Joan lost her hat. They were very small prices to pay,” the couple said.
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