FLORIDA — A Virginia kayaker who vanished during a solo trip in the Florida Everglades has been found after his cell phone washed ashore and authorities used it to recover data on his location.
Mark Miele, 67, was last seen on January 22 when he left for his kayaking trip, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office said.
He was supposed to return seven days later, but his family did not hear from him. On Sunday, park rangers found his belongings, including his wallet and phone, on the bank of the Lopez River near the Monroe County line, authorities said.
“By downloading the data on Mark’s phone Sunday night, deputies found his most recent coordinates logged on January 31 and our aviation unit began a targeted search of the area,” the sheriff’s office said.
Shortly before noon Monday, the aviation unit located him and provided his location to a Marine Unit along with officers from the National Park Service.
He was found a few miles from where his phone had washed up wearing a life jacket and floating faceup in the river. Rescuers in boats rushed to the area and plucked him from the murky waters.
“First concern when we found him it didn’t look like he was moving and we didn’t know if it was going to be a recovery or a rescue,” Cpl. Ed Henderson, who helped find him, told CNN affiliate WINK News. “He’d been in the water for two solid days and it’s been really cold.”
Miele was dehydrated and hypothermic, and was convulsing when he was found, authorities said. He is hospitalized in stable condition, and his family thanked local and state authorities for rescuing him.
“It’s a miracle he’s alive and in the condition he is in,” his family said in a statement.
No more information was immediately available.