06/28/2013

Fla. police rescue man lost for days in swamp

Searches proved difficult due to the mucky water, darkness and impenetrable vines, bushes and trees

By Scott Butler
The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville

A 55-year-old St. Johns County man is alive after rescuers found him perched shivering on a stump in ankle- to knee-deep water in a swampy area of Flagler County after being lost about four days.

Efforts to find Guss Baker began Thursday where he had gotten lost on property at the Turkey Island Hunt Club. Searches proved difficult due to the mucky water, darkness and impenetrable vines, bushes and trees.

As Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers and Flagler deputies maneuvered their way through the thick swamp undergrowth into the night, they kept yelling for Baker.

Finally, Fish and Wildlife Officer Rich Wilcox heard a faint response, "Yes," the agency said. But they still couldn't get to him, and his responses grew faint and slowly diminished.

Officer Lee Lawshe radioed in to coordinate more help including aerial support. A Volusia County Sheriff's Office helicopter used infrared thermal equipment to direct searchers to him. Then a Seminole County Sheriff's Office helicopter arrived with its rescue hoist.

Baker was cold, dehydrated, hungry and mentally and physically exhausted but is expected to make a full recovery, according to the Fish and Wildlife commission.

"I'm sure it has been a harrowing few days for Mr. Baker," Lawshe said in an agency news release. "Everyone involved ... worked closely together to find him and bring him out safely. I am relieved we found him alive; I only wish we could have found him sooner."

Copyright 2013 The Florida Times-Union


McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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