JUPITER, FL - Two teenagers are back at home after a harrowing canoe trip that went south. The two became separated from others and drifted until nightfall when they became lost with only darkness around them. They never expected this when they pushed away from Riverbend Park in Jupiter Farms.
Their canoe had tipped over, their bags were soaked, one teen lost a life jacket, and their cell phones were dead.
They were lost, worried and dehydrated until out of the darkness help emerged from a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officer.
If you ask Lt. Steve Sheridan about Saturday night, he'll tell you it was just part of the job. A humble account considering he plucked two teens from danger.
"We take an oath when we're hired on to protect our resources and citizens and I take that oath seriously," says Sheridan.
When the call came in that two teenage brothers went missing while canoeing on the Loxahatchee River Saturday night, there was no hesitation for Sheridan who was off duty and knew the path to find them would be filled with obstacles.
"They are literally in the middle of nowhere, the water dark, there's a lot of fallen trees and over- hangs."
It's a completely different river by night he says. The veteran officer grabbed his own canoe, paddled two miles through intense heat and rough terrain with one small headlamp.
Sure enough he kept calling the boys names every two minutes. Suddenly through the darkness and the brush came a voice.
"I asked if they were ok, they said 'yes,' I told them I'd be there shortly, told them who I was and got up to them, they were thirsty other than that in good shape," says Sheridan.
After dozens of rescuers searched from land, air and water. It came down to one man who wears and an FWC uniform. However it's the courage you can't see on his uniform that stands out.
"You find out folks are missing and you've got family members waiting, that's why everybody was out that night not just me," says Sheridan.
Steve Sheridan says if you're headed out canoeing have a float plan and make sure someone has a copy of it, have a dry bag to keep personal items like cell phones dry and if you get lost, stay put. That he says helped him find the two teenage boys more than anything.
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