Two men who’d gone fishing Friday afternoon in a jon boat spent seven hours stranded after the jon boat’s engine died and they proved unable to summon a tow, finally resulting in a late night rescue by public safety agencies. At one point the efforts had involved the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, Flagler County Fire Rescue, Volusia County’s emergency helicopter and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Eugene Nipper, 87, and James Alan Deihl, 68, had gone fishing somewhere on waters in the Hammock, possibly setting off at Long Creek preserve in Palm Coast. Nipper had been at his granddaughter Beth Barrow’s house in Bunnell earlier that day.
A little after 4 p.m., one of the two men on board reported that the jon boat’s engine had died. They weren’t in distress, but they weren’t sure where they were, neither of them being from this area. They’d called in to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. Since they were not in distress, they were told that, as per regulation, they were to call for a tow rather than for law enforcement, though Flagler County Fire Flight, the emergency helicopter, launched to check the area and at least locate the lost men. (In former days the men might have been rescued by Jon Netts, the former Palm Coast mayor who operated a tow boat on the Intracoastal for most of his years in Palm Coast. Netts died earlier this year.)
The sheriff’s 911 notes don’t clarify what developed with the helicopter, but by 8:30 p.m., when Barrow called in, the men were still stranded–and she was again told that a tow would have to be requested. Barrow then told authorities that the men were elderly and the wind was pushing their boat out to the point that they couldn’t row back to shore. The men, who got in contact with an official from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, had described landmarks that signaled they were in the area of Bings Landing in the Hammock, where authorities told Barrow to meet them.
The men themselves, according to a ping of their phone, were stuck in a marsh off the Intracoastal Waterway, and as time dragged on, Nipper became weak. He reported having a hard time sitting up from the strain of rowing. At 9:54 p.m., Air One, Volusia County’s emergency helicopter, launched.
Flagler County Fire Rescue deployed a jet ski a little after 10 p.m., while a Flagler County Sheriff’s marine unit was preparing to deploy an airboat. The airboat proved unnecessary as fire rescue’s paramedics reported seeing the jon boat and two men aboard at 10:13 p.m. Air One was cancelled. The jet ski’s crew towed the disabled jon boat back to shore at Bings Landing. The two men were back on shore by 11 p.m.
Nipper was tended to medically by Flagler County Fire Rescue 41 and ultimately refused medical treatment.
Roy Longo says
Great job by the Flagler County Water Rescue team, who I’m sure would have easily gone out and rescued them when they first called. They should have been dispatched right away. Glad this didn’t turn tragic. There’s a difference between a bunch of drunks who run out of gas and and two elderly men in a row boat.
Let us take inventory of this situation;
1) We have two old guys (being of a certain age, I can say that) in a flat bottomed john boat with no engine,
2) These guys do not know where they are, they call FCSO for help,
3) Old guys will always deny needing help or being in distress, please do not ask how I know this but please note the refusal of medical services.
4) FCSO dispatch instead of ‘reading between the lines’ and realizing what is actually happening, tells them to call for a tow,
5) For some reason Flagler Fire Flight was launched and no one knows why or where it went,
6) One of the old guys is reported to be suffering from physical exhaustion,
7) Six hours after the initial call and well after darkness has descended, Volusia County launches their helicopter, Fire Rescue launches a jet ski, FCSO readies an air boat and Fish and Wildlife are involved,
8) Seven hours after the initial call the old guys are back on dry land and all is good.
Maybe I am just out of touch but it seems like the FCSO dispatcher could have saved the old guys and their families some grief and saved some tax payer dollars by being a little more helpful in the beginning.
Now, two questions;
1) How were the old guys supposed to tell a tow boat where to come when the old guys had no clue where they were? Only law enforcement can ping a cell phone.
2) Just where is our helicopter?
I am sure that these are just silly questions . . .
Just Another Old guy who is tech savvy says
Since they had a cell phone they probably had a map app (or their tech guru grandchildren failed them).
Concerned Citizen says
Fire Flight has been off 24 hour service for years.
This came as a “cost cutting”measure from our beloved BOCC at the time. Not having much clue as to how Emergency Services works they thought it would be cheaper to rely on outside resources and MOU’s
Now let me qualify that statement as opposed to being an arm chair quarterback.
I am a long service Emergency Services volunteer in the area. With numerous deployments for disaster recovery. I come from a prior Military/Public Safety background retired as a Lt. from another Fire Rescue agency.
What our BOCC failed to realize when they reduced Fire Flight to 12 hour days was time to respond.
When a trauma alert/fire call or medivac mission is launched it takes precious seconds to get that request out. Then get the helo launched. Then you have travel time to scene. Same goes for LEO assist.
When dealing with a trauma alert every second spent waiting means the difference between a patient living or dying. With a fire call it migh mean the difference in keeping it from spreading. And with Officer safety they are waiting without the airborne support they need.
I have been strong advocate for years of returning FF to 24 hour service. It’s our helo. And does no good sitting in a hangar at night. Especially with the assets it uses to operate.
Stop spending money on outrageous salaries and spend it where needed.
Sharon Griffith says
This is a scary thing when you have someone answering EMERGENCY CALLS
That has no clue how to handle it
No Free Rides Here says
I hope they get a very large, hefty bill/fine from the Flagler County Goverment and any entinty that was dispacthed to help these fools. Shame on them for taking away emergency servies from people that might actual be in an “Actual Emergency”. The police and rescue personel are not a free tow service. I remember not to long ago a young man got arrested and charged for calling the police a number of time for a ride home. Maybe these gentelman need some time behind bars to reflect on how dumb these actions were and how many people they affected because they didnt want to call a tow service. Shame.
Fortunately, most people are not as short sighted or as self absorbed as yourself. Perhaps your views will change if you are ever in need for any type of help or assistance…. ( newsflash; we all will need some type of help or assistance at some point in our lifetime – please keep that in mind )
Concerned Citizen says
I hope you never get lost. And need help.
There was no malicious action here. So take a chill pill. Maybe you need time to reflect on being a decent human being.
How dare you speak in that manner I was born in Flagler county and 87 year old man is my father. He’s hard of hearing, Diabetic has a pacemaker and knows the waters there more than anyone but due to the struggle he fell twice and passed out. Calling fir help but they didn’t get any until their hand was pushed by his loved ones. The tide was taking them out to sea and dad said he knew where they were but to exhausted to get in by poling. He also served on the front lines in the marines in the Korean War. There was a lot of misinformation in the article. Glad it wasn’t your relative they would still be out there shame on you.
Kathy Abel says
So disappointed that these men were not rescued when the first call came. Thank God they are safe now. FCSO Fail!!!!
Old Guy says
I think the key issue is that they did not know their location. This should have caused a search to be initiated. Their age was another significant factor. Before my fellow “Old Guys” return to the water they should invest in an emergency locator beacon.
This could have been a very tragic ending. When someone calls for help I don’t care what age the people are they should have had help immediately or they wouldn’t have called for it.
Passing the buck and not helping is not what public service is all about.
The Dispatcher was more concerned with protocol than with helping these fellows. Poor training or wrong person for the job.
@”NO Free Rides” I consider a total failure of the FCSO dispatcher not to have send a jet ski or boat to help these two men in distress in just a basic John boat who’s small engine failed. A tow would have cost them a fortune as maybe they do not have insurance to cover that basic vessel and probably they could not afford it either. Seven hours and the fire flight chopper looking for them? Where is the common sense here? How come the ones lost off shore are looked for days and weeks in our dime by law enforcement, the coast guard and by air and we never ask to get our monies back, but for these two elderly fellows you are asking for your money back? There is a bias here in rescuing two elderly men lost in alligator infested marshes and the ones from affluent families lost at sea? https://people.com/human-interest/florida-teens-lost-at-sea-what-happened/ We all should be helped whether we can afford the search and rescue or not! So much of our hard earned taxes are wasted in frivolous benefitting the few well connected, then we need it to be used to try and save lives as well! No everyone can mortgage their house if have one to pay for a tow if they do not have their boat insured, which could be the case. Glad the two elderly gentlemen are okay. Is time to stop the bashing of the less fortunate…is like keep on kicking a dead horse!
CB from PC says
1. Why would their relatives permit an 87 year old and 68 year old unfamiliar with the area to go out unaccompanied by an experienced boater who knows the area?
2. Did they have flotation devices flares or other required, and common sense safety equipment on board?
Thank you to the Rescue personnel who certainly prevented a horrible outcome.
If there had been a squall that Jon boat would have capsized very quickly.
Take it from an experienced boater and use some common sense folks.
My father is very experienced and knows the waters there like the back of his hand they were going for a couple hours he was not in his boat they called for help they got none
They tried but the tide just kept pushing them back they could make no progress my father use to be a private fishing guide. In this area. They had life jackets etc. they kept waiting to be rescued my dad finally called me at 8:30 when he was exhausted and realized nobody took them serious and weren’t coming to help. Even with experience it’s very different in the dark in the marsh than daylight.
Betty Shadday says
DID THEY CATCH ANY FISH???
Charlie Ericksen Jr says
GEEZ,,, When I go out in my car, I have a spare tire, jack and cell phone..
When I went out in a small boat, I had what are known as OARS , OARS are a back up.. Let me spell that again. .OARS
They should pay for the ” tow ” and be arrested for stupidity