The new Longboat Key Police Marine Department boat is proving its worthiness.
Marine Officer Dennis Silverio Jr. and Patrol Officer Charles Erickson responded to a call for help from a Sarasota police dispatch just before 2 p.m. Sunday.
Kayla Roush, 23, was aboard a 27-foot sailboat with her family Sunday afternoon, when a storm with high winds caused her to fall overboard.
The other five people aboard the sailboat attempted to get her out of the water, according to the police report. But, due to slippery conditions and rough waves, Roush could not be rescued, and the sailboat’s captain tossed Roush a life jacket before losing sight of her.
Longboat Key Police Chief Al Hogle said Silverio and Erickson responded to the call and spoke with the family three miles north of the Ringling Causeway Bridge before starting their search.
Silverio navigated the new marine boat south of the sailboat during a second storm squall that made boat navigation and visibility on top of the water difficult, according to a police press release.
Erickson spotted Roush treading water at approximately 2:15 p.m. in Sarasota Bay.
Upon seeing the marine boat, Roush began to swim toward the boat and was brought aboard through a side dive door.
The marine boat towed the sailboat to shore after Roush was secured on the boat.
Hogle said the new $135,000 Intrepid marine boat, purchased in January, was instrumental in the save, because the twin-engine boat can handle more treacherous conditions than the 12-year-old, single-engine Wellcraft it replaced.
The new boat also contains fully operational computer and radar equipment that can locate boats in distress 25 miles offshore.
The boat was obtained with the help of a grant from the West Coast Inland Navigational District, which paid for half of the boat’s cost.
“The side dive door that we installed on the boat also makes it much easier to bring people on board from the water,” Hogle said.
Hogle also commended the efforts of Silverio and Erickson.
“When you have Dennis in our patrol boat, you stand a good chance of being rescued on the water,” Hogle said.
While it’s the first save Silverio has made in the new boat, it’s not the first save of Silverio’s career on the waters off Longboat Key.
On March 26, 2005, Silverio helped three people who were clinging to a boogie board about 150 yards offshore the north end of Longboat Key.
And Sept. 28, 2003, Silverio rescued three people whose boat capsized in Sarasota Bay because of bad weather.
Hogle warns all boaters to wear U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices at all times when on the water to prevent accidental drownings.
“My suggestion would be to put a personal flotation device on before you leave the dock,” Hogle said.
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