Local seaplane pilot saves boaters on Peace River in twist of fate rescue

air flight-by mauleBY MARCY SHORTUSE – It’s always amazing when lives are saved by the fates, good fortune and kind hearts. Mark Futch rediscovered that feeling last Thursday as he cruised in his seaplane up around the Peace River just north of the Nav-a-Gator Restaurant.

Mark was with Rogan White, son of author Randy Wayne White. He was teaching him to fly and they were up in the river doing “touch and gos.”

“There’s a dogleg there, and I teach dogleg turns and circular takeoffs in the seaplane,” Mark said. “I’ve been going there for about 30 years.”

Mark said they were taxiing down at idle speed when he saw a man frantically waving a white t-shirt. It looked as though he and his boat were in trouble.

“He was way up in the cypress trees,” Mark said. “He had lost control of the boat and when they hit the trees the impact knocked both him and his passenger out of the boat. The passenger, a woman, thought her neck was broken. The man thought his arm was broken.”

Mark told him they would have to paddle the boat out, so miraculously they did. Mark took the female passenger on board and got her to Arcadia, where an ambulance met them at Arcadia Airport.

The boat driver had originally called 911 to report the accident, but the sheriff’s helicopter that responded said they had no chance of landing anywhere near the swampy area where the couple had hit the trees.

“It was a good thing we happened to be there,” Mark said. “She was in a lot of pain at the time. As it turns out she didn’t break her neck, but she had some serious bone contusions and bruises.”

There is another side to the story as well. Rogan has been trying to break into the law enforcement field and has already completed his police academy training. After meeting with a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer at the scene, he may have an interview in his future.