A man was rescued by an officer in a kayak in Fort Walton Beach, in the Florida panhandle, on January 20, after police received multiple calls of a man in distress on the water.
The Fort Walton Beach Police Department said Marco Martinez was found on a “small raft with no means of propulsion drifting easterly near the Cinco Bayou Bridge.” His raft then drifted under the bridge, where he fell off and “clung to a piling,” police said.
The incident prompted a multi-agency response, involving the US Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife, and Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Marine units, but officers at the scene were told water rescue resources were 30 minutes away, police said.
“Because of the low temperatures (48 degrees and wind chill of 40 degrees), declining water conditions and the distress of Martinez, officers acted immediately,” police wrote.
Police said Officer Parsons and Corporal Ross borrowed two kayaks from a bystander and paddled under the bridge to get to Martinez. Officer Parsons was ejected from his kayak “due to weather conditions” but continued to swim toward Martinez, who police said appeared to be in shock and who was “possibly hypothermic.” Martinez was brought to shore and taken to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center.
Martinez appeared to be “in shock and was possibly hypothermic,” police added.
The police department praised Officer Parsons and Cpl Ross, calling their actions “heroic.” Credit: Fort Walton Beach Police Department via Storyful