CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Three men were rescued after their motorized canoe sank in the St. Johns River on Wednesday morning, according to the Clay County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies said they received a call from a witness just before 11 a.m. regarding a sunken boat in the river, south of the Shands Bridge and near the shore of the Bayard Conservation Area, off State Road 16 in Green Cove Springs.
All three men, who are in their 20s, were found by law enforcement and are in good condition despite being in the cold water for some time, deputies said. The water temperature was believed to be in the 40s at the time.
The first man was found on shore by a hiker in the Bayard Conservation Area. That witness notified the Sheriff's Office, and boats were sent to the area to search.
Sgt. Eric Twisdale was on the river testing a new engine on one of the Sheriff's Office's marine units when the call went out. Twisdale soon found the other two men in the water and rescued them. Neither were wearing life preservers.
"With the water temperatures the way they are, it doesn't take long for those conditions to set in to where you're not able to perform or swim," Twisdale said. "If we had not or if they had been further offshore, hypothermia. Once you get hypothermia, your muscles begin to lock up and you lose body function. They could have very well drowned."
All three were wrapped in thermal blankets and checked for hypothermia by paramedics but did not need to go to the hospital.
Deputies said the motorized canoe became swamped in the choppy waters. They were able to recover it.