Navy veterans rescued after birthday canoe trip leaves them stranded

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. (WESH) - A Navy veteran and his friend got stuck up a Florida creek for more than 24 hours after renting a canoe for his birthday.

Wayne Foit, an 81-year-old Navy veteran, thought he would show his 78-year-old war buddy the sights with a peaceful canoe trip on Spruce Creek in Port Orange, Florida. But as the two were heading back, the tide went out, leaving them stuck.

Wayne Foit, an 81-year-old Navy veteran, and his 78-year-old war buddy got stuck while on a canoe trip in Port Orange, Florida. The men spent 28 hours in the elements before being rescued.
Wayne Foit, an 81-year-old Navy veteran, and his 78-year-old war buddy got stuck while on a canoe trip in Port Orange, Florida. The men spent 28 hours in the elements before being rescued. (Source: WESH via CNN)

“That’s where we got stuck because the tide started going out so fast,” Foit said. “I was up the proverbial creek without a paddle, I’ll tell you that much.”

The men spent 28 hours in the elements before being rescued.

At one point, the canoe overturned, and the two were thrown into the water, sinking into the muddy silt. They got back in the canoe, but it was water-logged. Foit, who lost his leg in an accident seven years ago, used his prosthetic to bail out the water.

“I took my prosthetic off, and I used that as a bailing cup because we didn’t have nothing to bail with,” Foit said.

Port Orange Police Chief Tom Grimaldi says the men left Saturday afternoon but weren’t reported missing until Sunday morning.

Rescuers knew their start point, but with miles in Spruce Creek, they hoped to ping their cell phones to pinpoint their location. However, the men had left their phones in their car, expecting to only be gone a short while.

The rescue was also complicated by stormy weather. Grimaldi’s team had to wade through thigh-deep mud, but they finally found the men, blocked by debris in a tributary, at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

“We were able to use like a bedsheet basically to wrap them in, and we carried them out that way,” Grimaldi said.

Foit says he and his friend were celebrating his birthday, now one he won’t soon forget.

“That was the best birthday present I ever had, seeing the guys coming down the hill,” Foit said.

Paramedics cleared the men, who had suffered a few bumps and bruises, on scene.

Copyright 2021 WESH via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.