Florida dad, daughter tread water for nearly an hour before rescue after Jet Ski sinks in lake
A Florida father and his 13-year-old daughter were rescued from a lake on Saturday after their Jet Ski sank, forcing them to tread water for nearly an hour, authorities said.
Christopher Snow, 31, and his daughter Alexis went missing after going out on the Jet Ski from Baker Creek Park in Thonotosassa around 6:50 p.m., the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said.
Snow's girlfriend, Carolyn Joyce, went to the dock around 8 p.m. after being unable to get in touch over the phone with the pair. Seeing that Snow and Alexis had yet to return, Joyce alerted Deputy Kevin Reich, who was on routine patrol at the dock.
A good Samaritan and his family took the deputy out onto Lake Thonotosassa on their boat to start the search while waiting for marine and aviation units to respond.
Within 40 minutes of first speaking with Joyce about the missing father and daughter, Reich spotted them in the water.
"Help!" Alexis can be heard screaming on Reich’s body camera.
"We're coming, baby!" a woman on the boat yells back.
"Our Jet Ski sunk underwater!" Alexis says. The girl is thrown a rope and is pulled onboard the boat first.
The pair appeared exhausted on the video when the rescuers pulled them aboard, and officials said they had been treading water for nearly an hour. The sheriff’s office said they might not have survived if they had not been wearing life jackets.
"The swift response of our deputy and the assistance provided by the community played a crucial role in the successful rescue of Christopher and Alexis Snow," said Sheriff Chad Chronister. "We are relieved that they were returned to shore safely and without any injuries. It is scary to imagine what could have happened had this father and daughter not been wearing their life jackets."
Snow thanked the sheriff’s office and the local boaters in a statement.
"I want to thank both the boaters that helped and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office for being on patrol and noticing something wasn't right," said Christopher Snow. "My life jacket wasn't sized properly, so this is a good reminder to make sure yours is fitted correctly."