Turtle mistaken for human rescued in Brevard

Merritt Island woman calls 911 after seeing commotion in Indian River

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. - A 200-pound turtle was rescued from the Indian River in Brevard County after a woman called 911 because she mistook the animal for a person drowning.

Gina VanBeck, of Merritt Island, said she was outside walking her dog around 9 a.m. Tuesday when she noticed something large flapping around in the river.  She thought it was a person drowning and called 911.

John Coppola, chief pilot for the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, says he also thought it was a person in the river when he flew overhead in a helicopter.  He then realized it was a loggerhead sea turtle, which he says can weigh up to 600 pounds.

The Melbourne Police Department used a boat to rescue the turtle, which was about 100 yards west of the South Tropical Shore trail line.

The turtle is being examined to determine what's wrong with it. The Sea Turtle Preservation Society says the turtle was near death and needed to be rescued. It has since been taken to SeaWorld for rehabilitation.

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