(TARPON SPRINGS, Fla.) -- The U.S. Coast Guard rescued a 17-year-old girl on Sunday night drifting in a kayak off the coast of Florida, officials said Monday.
Halfway through a 2-mile day trip from Fred Howard Park to the Anclote Keyes, the girl said her arms got tired and she decided to turn around while her father, mother and brother continued on, according to Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley J. Johnson.
On the solo trip back, the girl told authorities, she was caught in the wake of a boat, lost her paddle and started to drift.
Luckily, she stayed with her kayak and donned her life vest, she told authorities. Both the boat and the life jacket make missing persons easier to spot, according to the Coast Guard, which also noted that many life jackets also have reflective tape.
When the girl’s family realized she hadn’t made it back to Fred Howard Park, they notified authorities. After a four-hour search, at 10:06 p.m., a Coast Guard chopper spotted her drifting off the coast of Tarpon Springs using an infrared camera.
When she realized authorities were on the scene, the girl -- then suffering from a mild case of hypothermia -- started waving her arms, an international signal of distress, the Coast Guard said.
A rescue crew recovered her and her kayak using a boat hook. She was reunited with her family and taken to a local hospital as a precaution, authorities said.
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