FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly is praising his deputies for their empathy after they rescued an endangered missing man over the weekend.
Flagler County deputies responded to a missing person call on Saturday in Palm Coast. Authorities arrived at a home along Coconut Court at 2 a.m. where the man’s wife said her husband had wandered off. She last saw him before she went to bed, according to deputies.
The couple’s vehicle was still parked in the driveway however the back door was unlocked, investigators said. This prompted deputies to search the neighborhood, including the saltwater canal behind the couple’s home.
Flagler County deputies called the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office for help. VCSO provided their helicopter, a K-9 and a marine unit. As search crews canvassed the area, a neighbor reported a man had stumbled into their backyard by the canal, according to investigators.
Authorities found an elderly man “who was clearly exhausted and in distress,” clinging to the outside of the chain-link fence that was dangling over the water, Flagler County deputies said.
Body camera video shows the man seemed to be confused and nervous to let go of the fence. Deputies calmly coerced him to let go, reaching for him as he slowly let go, video shows.
Teams rescued the man from the water’s edge and guided him to a safer location. As deputies waited for medical crews to arrive, they noticed he was extremely weak.
“If the male had not been found quickly, it is likely he would not have been able to hold on to the fence much longer and would have fallen into the saltwater canal,” deputies said in a news release.
The man was cleared by EMS and escorted to his home to reunite with his wife.
“The compassion our deputies showed while rescuing this man without injury is commendable and a great example of how our team serves the community every day,” Staly said in a news release.
FCSO said they will follow up with the man’s family to go over services available to help prevent a situation like this from happening again.