Handheld GPS device leads to Coast Guard rescue of overturned kayaker

USCG File Photo

Fort Myers Beach, Fla. – The Coast Guard rescued a 64 year-old woman after her kayak capsized several miles west of Fort Myers Beach, Monday.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Fla. received notification at 9:36 a.m. Monday, from the Seventh Coast Guard District in Miami, that a distress alert from a handheld GPS device had been received from a location four miles west of Little Hickory Pass, off Fort Myers Beach.

A Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach 33-foot Special Purpose Craft – Law Enforcement boat crew launched at 9:45 a.m., heading to the coordinates provided by the distress alert.  At 10:04 a.m. the boatcrew located a woman who identified herself as Kathy Kenley, clinging to the capsized hull of a kayak.

The boatcrew transported Kenley, who was showing symptoms of hypothermia, to the Carl E. Johnson boatramp in New Pass, Fla.

Kenley was transferred to awaiting Lee County EMS, who reportedly transported her to North Collier Hospital.

“We knew where to launch from and where to look for her because she had an emergency distress function on her handheld GPS,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Bridgett Wells, an operations specialist at the Sector St. Petersburg Command Center.  “I would recommend all kayakers or windsurfers have a personal electronic location device with them at all times on their lifejacket.”

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