This is quite the amazing tale of strength, hope, and survival. A man and his son went swimming on a late Sunday afternoon, only to get pulled out to sea by the tide. The two remained cast adrift until they were found the next morning, over 12 hours after they were last seen.
The couple from Winter Park, Florida, were taking in a day at the coast of Florida at Ponce Inlet with the family, by the way, just a few short miles away from the beaches dubbed as the “Shark Bite Capitol of the World.” Walter Marino’s autistic son Chris, went out for a swim just off the jetty. Soon after Chris would find himself in trouble in the water after swimming too far out. His father followed to go after him. An outgoing tide got the best of both of them and pulled them even further out.
Walter’s daughter was the first to call to report her father and brother missing at sea. Her call came in shortly before 7:30pm. Volusia County Beach Patrol responded immediately and the Coast Guard shortly thereafter. The beach patrol had a boat out, the Coast Guard had a 48-foot motorized boat aiding in the search. In addition, Volusia County Sheriffs Office and the Coast Guard both had choppers up searching. Hours passed, and no word of either Walter or Chris.
I’ve seen these incidents dozens and dozens of times in the past few years. When people are lost, and when they are not found immediately it doesn’t usually turn out well. A search and rescue operation soon turns into a search and recovery operation. It’s hard to see how anyone could survive floating adrift given conditions of weather, health, conditions, etc.
The Coast Guard searched all night into the early morning hours until they weren’t able to search anymore. They picked back up again at first light Sunday morning. Around 7:30pm, 12 hours after they were reported missing, a good samaritan boat spotted Walter about eight miles off shore. Mr. Marino would report to the coast guard and search crews that he lost contact with his son when the two drifted apart around 11pm, and he hasn’t seen him since. Almost two hours later a Coast Guard helicopter would find his son a short distance away.
Not for nothin’, but these two are either lucky or determined. Aside from some dehydration and chills, the two are in pretty good condition.
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