District employees Don Kaskie and Violet Woodard thought it would be another typical work day.
The vegetation specialists spent a day last month in airboats treating water hyacinth and water lettuce on Upper Myakka Lake. Near the end of their work day, a local canoe rental shop reported that a couple who had rented a boat never returned.
With a large storm approaching, Kaskie searched nearly 7 miles of shoreline by airboat while Woodard searched for the couple by land. After 20 minutes, Woodard spotted the couple in the water waving for help.
A large swale had capsized their canoe. The couple spent an hour treading water in the 6 to 7 feet deep lake, which is known for its gator population. Kaskie was able to help the couple safely onto his airboat and back to shore. While there were no injuries, the couple said they had been scared for their lives and were thankful to be rescued.
“I don’t feel like a hero,” said Kaskie, “just seeing them safely on shore is the best gratification I could get.”