Skip to main content
Siesta Key Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011 10 years ago

Jet Skis prove value as rescue equipment

by: Rachel Brown Hackney Managing Editor

Sarasota County lifeguards and Sheriff’s Office deputies collaborated recently for a water rescue in Big Pass, after a 19-foot boat ran aground in Big Pass.

Lifeguard/EMT Robert Martini and Sgt. Scott Osborne told members of the Siesta Key Association about the incident during the Aug. 4 SKA meeting.

The boat had four adults and two children, and because it was in shallow water, the Sheriff’s Office boat was unable to reach the vessel, Martini said. He and another lifeguard used their Jet Skis to assist the people on board.

According to the official Sheriff’s Office report, the call for help came in just before 1:30 p.m. Aug. 4. The boaters reported the vessel was taking on water.

The two lifeguards had responded in three or four minutes, Osborne said.

Using a sled towed behind one of the Jet Skis, Osborne said, the lifeguards were able to get everyone safely off the boat. An elderly man said he had suffered an ear injury, according to the report, but everyone else appeared to be OK.

The Sheriff’s Office notified the U.S. Coast Guard station in Cortez about the unmanned vessel remaining in the pass. After Coast Guard crewmembers checked out the boat to make sure it was seaworthy, they towed it to the 10th Street Boat Ramp.

In response to a question from SKA board member Joe Volpe, Martini said the county lifeguard operation has three Jet Skis, one each on Lido Key, Siesta Public Beach and Casey Key. The Lido vessel is used in New Pass, while the others are used for incidents in South County.

SKA Vice President Peter van Roekens drew chuckles later when he gave his monthly report on the channel depth in Big Pass. If those boaters had checked the Sarasota County Yacht Club’s website,, for the latest depth measurements, they most likely would not have run aground, he said.

As of Aug. 4, the channel was 6 feet deep, van Roekens said.

That ever-present noise
During the SKA meeting, Russell Matthes, president of the Siesta Key Village Association, reported he had been working with van Roekens, Assistant Sarasota County Zoning Administrator Donna Thompson and Code Enforcement Officer John Lally to get baseline readings with the county’s new noise meters.
Thursday nights in the Village, which are ladies’ nights for several bars, seem to be particularly noisy, Matthes said, prompting more recent complaints.

The group planned to get noise meter readings in the 11 a.m.-to-noon time range first, Matthes said, to determine how much noise is coming from each location and how much traffic and other noise are factors. Then, he said, they would check during the general dinner hour and about 10 p.m.

Van Roekens has been a representative of Terrace East as well as the SKA in this project. He told members of the Siesta Key Village Association July 19 the new meters the county purchased “are a lot simpler (to use) than the old ones by far. … I have one to play with.”

New highway designation
A couple of times during the Aug. 4 SKA meeting, President Catherine Luckner mentioned the “Joe Volpe Highway,” drawing both guffaws and quizzical looks.

She smiled and said simply it was a bit of an inside joke.

For those who haven’t followed the issue, Luckner was referring to the July 25 resurfacing of Siesta Drive from the north bridge to the Hanson Bayou, or “humpback,” bridge.

Volpe had complained for months after the city of Sarasota resurfacing project was completed in September 2010 that the work was done poorly, resulting in a groove ranging from a one-half inch to three-eighths inches deep toward the outer edge of both the northbound and southbound lanes. Finally, after Volpe raised the issue with Florida Department of Transportation officials during the SKA’s July 7 meeting, FDOT followed up, learning a dispute between the contractors had resulted in the city withholding final payment for the work until the primary contractor arranged to resurface that stretch of road and eradicate the groove.

For pets in need
Fairy Tale Endings Inc., whose Siesta Village shop has been open about 18 months, is inviting all pet lovers to participate in a bowling fundraiser Aug. 19 that will benefit its Emergency Vet Care Fund.

According to Rhys Miller, founder and president, the fund “pays for life-saving diagnostics and emergency treatments for cherished pets that would otherwise go without critical care or be euthanized simply because their owners can’t afford to pay.” Miller added in a press release, “Families already suffering the loss of job, income or home shouldn’t have to add the loss of their best friend.”

The event, which will be held from 8 to 11 p.m. Aug. 19, at Gulf Gate Lanes, 7221 S. Tamiami Trail, will feature extreme bowling, pizza, raffles and spotlight bowler frames for the chance to win door prizes. Tickets are $20 per person, or $85 per family or team of five members. Those who would like to support the effort but not bowl may pay $10 for admission.

To reserve space or to learn more about this cause, visit

Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.

Related Stories