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12-year-old jet skier helps rescue family after canoe overturns

Family of 4 hospitalized, treated for hypothermia

Family recovering after boat capsizes
Family recovering after boat capsizes

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Clay County Fire Rescue and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission -- along with a 12-year-old jet skier -- rescued a family of four after a canoe capsized in Kingsley Lake on a cold day last month.

Following the rescue, Jon Tawney, his wife and their 5-year-old and 2-year-old sons were hospitalized and treated for hypothermia. Tawney told News4Jax on Sunday that they’re now all out of the hospital and doing much better.

Tawney said he and his family came out to Camp Blanding on Feb. 22 to enjoy an afternoon on the water. Once they were about a mile out, he said, their canoe overturned.

Tawney said they were stuck for about an hour before they were rescued. He said it was a 12-year-old on a jet ski that helped CCFR and FWC get to them.

“As soon as we fell in, I looked around, and I was, like, there is no swimming to shore. I tried to get the (canoe) over and I was, like, if this isn’t working, like, oh my, God, we are screwed,” Tawney said. “Obviously, I got my cellphone out and was very thankful that still worked. So, I just started calling anyone and everyone I could. And thankfully my boss, my LPO, he was able to get EMS to us.”

Tawney said he saw the flashing lights and responders on the shoreline for quite a while before any boats got in the water.

News4Jax learned that FWC has a boat stationed at Camp Blanding, but CCFR does not have one at all.

About the Author:

Florida-born multi-media journalist pays special attention to issues in St. Johns County.