BY MARCY SHORTUSE- A Punta Gorda family is counting their blessings this week, and seeking their guardian angel after a nearly-disastrous incident at an island beach. Kayla Bowen and her family came to Boca Grande’s Range Light Beach to have a relaxing Labor Day. She said her 8-year-old daughter, her 5-year-old stepson and her dad were riding their jet ski, when one of the children dropped their beach ball and made the mistake of trying to reach for it.
“My dad realized she was leaning and went to lean to grab her and tell her to sit back up, and then a wave came from the other side of the jet ski and flipped it,” Kayla recollected. When that happened it threw all three of them into the water. The jet ski started floating one way, and my children floated the other way. My stepdad was left alone in the water between the jet ski and the kids, and couldn’t make it to the kids. He decided his best decision was to get the jet ski to make it over to them.”
That’s when a good Samaritan known only as “Freddie” appeared out of nowhere. He jumped in the water, swam to the children, and grabbed them up.
“My 8-year-old grabbed onto her brother’s life jacket and said she told him to kick his feet as fast as he could,” Kayla said. “How he got to my children, I have no idea. My husband and I realized what was happening and jumped in, too, but we didn’t get far before we were completely drained. By that time the guy had already made it to my kids. My dad was right behind him on the jet ski, and they managed to get the two kids onto the jet ski.”
The mystery man grabbed the rope to be pulled in to shore, but started to lose his grip. He was finally able to grab Kayla’s father’s hand and was pulled onto the jet ski.
“This guy saved my children’s life without hesitation, and if it weren’t for him and for the life jackets they were wearing, I’d be planning two funerals right now,” Kayla said. “I was only able to catch his first name, but I think he might possibly be Spanish, and in his 50s. My 8-year-old is convinced he is her angel, and insists I find him so she can say thank you.”
If you know who Freddie might be, please call the Boca Beacon at 964-2995 or reach out on our Facebook page where this story is posted.
Never underestimate the currents in local waters, particularly south of 1st Street beach. The further south you go, the stronger the current can be. Rip currents can form at any time, in any weather, and are usually undetectable to the naked eye. Just a few years ago a young man was lost while saving his family members from a rip current at the same location. He was never found.
Always be diligent, even on a calm, sunny day when the water doesn’t appear to be threatening.