ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.− The Coast Guard and partner agencies, with the help of Good Samaritans, found a missing jet skier in the vicinity of the Dunedin (Florida) Causeway, Thursday.
Rescued was Wallistein Hopkins, 48, Clearwater.
At 9:03 p.m. watchstanders from Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a 911 transfer call from Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office reporting a woman wearing a life jacket had swam to shore after her jet ski began sinking shortly before sunset. She reported her boyfriend, Hopkins, had remained with the jet ski blowing a whistle.
An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter rescue crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Florida, and a 24-foot Special Purpose Craft-Shallow Water boat crew from Coast Guard Station Sand Key, Florida, were launched and commenced the search.
Shortly after, a Good Samaritan reported finding the jet ski with no one aboard.
At 10:32 p.m. condominium residents reported hearing a whistle. The Jayhawk helicopter air crew got on scene and positively identified the source of the whistle as Hopkins standing in shallow water. At 10:58 p.m. another Good Samaritan arrived on scene with EMS.
“It was very vital that this man had on a life jacket and a sound producing device,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Wheatley, a search and rescue operations controller at the sector. “Without the use of the whistle our search efforts would have been significantly delayed.”
FWC, Pinellas County Marine Units, Pinellas County Fire and Rescue, a Pinellas County Helicopter crew and Dunedin Fire Rescue aided in the search and rescue.