Two hikers rescued by Collier County Sheriff’s Office helicopter

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COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — A CCSO helicopter crew rescued two hikers from the Big Cypress Preserve after a storm on Friday. 

“It feels good, to know that we helped somebody in need. Helicopter operations are very dangerous. So we didn’t want to spend a lot of time out there – get in and get out. Rescue specialists did a great job. Pilots did a great job,” said Cpl. Matt Macera of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, one of the pilots on the mission. 

CCSO tells NBC2 their 911 center received a call at around 4PM. One of the hikers had been suffering from severe heatstroke and could not continue down the trail. The other stayed behind to care for him. The two men were approximately 7 miles from the park’s edge. 

“The one individual had the beginnings of heat stroke. With the heat its not good to continue on … they did the right thing to find shelter in the shade and waited for help to come. Its very vast out there and very wet … so much of the Everglades is actually flooded. So it can be very dangerous trying to get out there in that condition,” said Cpl. Macera.     

Due to severe weather, aircrews were unable to respond and a ground search with assistance from the National Park Services began.

Once the weather cleared, three deputies and two North Collier Fire Department rescue specialists responded to the area and began a helicopter search.

After an hour-long search, the hikers were spotted and hoisted safely. They were evaluated by paramedics at a rest area. CCSO had been able to track the callers’ cell phone coordinates – giving them a half a mile radius to search. 

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“The good news is they had a cell phone … the coordinates they were able to give back to us from their cell phone were pretty accurate. It was less half a mile from where we found them at,” said Cpl. Macera. 

They were able to spot the men shining flashlights. 

“This rescue is a prime example of the great work of our Aviation Bureau,” said Sheriff Kevin Rambosk. “Whether it is a rescue or helping to extinguish brush fires or assisting our Patrol division, our Aviation Bureau is always ready to deploy.”

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