Local News

Man rescued after spending night on lake in frigid temperatures

AVON PARK - For George Wyche, the fishing trip that began Monday on Lake Damon probably wasn't his best such venture.

Wyche only caught one fish and he ended up spending all night out on the lake in wind chills in the 30s.

Nevertheless, he didn't look the worse for the wear after being rescued Tuesday morning.

"I'm OK," Wyche said, while declining transport on an ambulance to seek medical attention.

When asked his age, Wyche's response may have surprised some when they saw how well he survived his ordeal.

"I'm 73 years old," he said. "In a few more days, I'll be 74."

Wyche survived the situation by having proper clothing and a generator that produced heat, he said. "I kept warm."

He said that he was stranded with his boat tied to a tree about 50 yards off shore because of the heavy waves that prevented him from navigating his craft.

Wyche said he kept hoping that the winds would die down and the waves would less powerful, but that never happened.

Mary Watson, a friend of Wyche, went to the lake Tuesday morning to check on him, Nell Hays, public information officer for the Highlands County Sheriff's Office, said in a press release. She said Watson couldn't reach Wyche by phone and she searched the perimeter of the lake without success.

Hays said Wyche didn't realize he could call 911 on his phone, despite being out of minutes.

Watson went to River Greens Golf Course's pro shop and told employees about the situation. They notified the sheriff's office.

The sheriff's office contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission because FWCC officers were located close to the area, Hays said. Deputies Johnny Trammel and Adam Schwartz also went to the boat ramp.

The FWC assisted Wyche to shore and Avon Park Police Department Commander Brian Robinson transported Wyche to the boat ramp.

James Adams, who is with the commission and helped to rescue Wyche, said Wyche was okay when he arrived where Wyche was stranded. "He (Wyche) was pretty happy to get some help."

Adams said Wyche's experience in fishing helped him survive. A less experienced and unprepared voter may have had problems, he said.

Wyche has been fishing for many years, he said.

"I've fished in all these lakes," he added.

Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton was pleased with the outcome, she said in a press release.

"The coordinated effort between our deputies, FWC and Commander Robinson resulted in a happy ending for this rescued boater," she said. "We are glad to have been able to this man back to his family unharmed."