Phone data leads to rescue of man lost in Everglades for days: 'It's a miracle he’s alive'
Authorities in Florida were able to use data from the lost cell phone of a kayaker, who disappeared in the Everglades, to track down and rescue the man.
Mark Miele, a 67-year-old Virginia man, embarked on a solo kayaking trip in Everglades National Park on Jan. 22 but failed to return as planned on Jan. 29, according to the Collier County Sheriff's Office (CCSO).
Four days later, on Sunday, Feb. 2, a sealed plastic bag of Miele's belongings, including his wallet and phone, washed up on the bank of the Lopez River and was discovered by national park rangers, who reported their finding to the sheriff's office.
Deputies were able to download data from Miele's phone Sunday night and use his most recent coordinates, which were logged on Jan. 31, to launch an aerial search.
Miele was spotted floating in his life jacket on Monday, Feb. 3, by an Aviation Unit, which was able to guide a police boat to his location, just a few miles away from where his belongings were discovered.
The CCSO later shared footage of the rescue on Facebook, showing a life-jacketed Miele lying on his back bobbing in the river before responding officials pull him into their boat.
Rescuers told WINK News that Miele was dehydrated and hypothermic when they finally reached him.
"First concern when we found him it didn’t look like he was moving and we didn't know if it was going to be a recovery or a rescue," said Corporal Ed Henderson, the pilot who spotted Miele.
The lost kayaker was rushed to Physicians Regional Hospital, where he is said to be in stable condition.
Following his rescue, Miele's family said they were overjoyed to have their loved one back safe, and also requested privacy.
"Mark is recovering and is stable," they said. "We thank the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, the National Park Service and all of the search rangers, and the Fish and Wildlife Commission. We couldn’t have worked with a more wonderful, caring, kind, and straightforward group of people. It’s a miracle he’s alive and in the condition he is in. We would also like to thank the professionals at Physicians Regional Hospital (Collier Boulevard) for their competency and caring ways."