Phone data leads to rescue of kayaker missing for nearly 2 weeks in Everglades

A kayaker who went missing during a solo trip in the Florida Everglades was found alive after his cell phone washed up on a riverbank and authorities were able to recover data showing where he'd been.

A helicopter crew then spotted Mark Miele, 67, and led a marine unit to his location, the Collier County Sheriff's Office posted on Facebook. He was being treated Monday afternoon at a Naples hospital. His condition was not immediately known.

Miele embarked on a solo kayaking trip in Everglades National Park on Jan. 22 and was due back Jan. 29, officials said. He never returned, but a bag containing his wallet and phone washed up Sunday on the bank of the Lopez River. National Park Service rangers found the belongings and asked the sheriff's office to assist in a search.


Miele was rescued Monday, five days after he failed to return from his kayaking trip in Everglades National Park. He was supposed to be due back on Jan. 29. (Collier County Sheriff’s Office)

Deputies downloaded data from Miele's phone Sunday night, officials said. His most recent location had been recorded Friday, giving the sheriff's aviation unit a place to target its search. A helicopter crew eventually spotted Miele floating in the water face-up and wearing a life jacket several miles from where his belongings were found. Boats soon reached the area and took Miele to safety.

Miele didn’t appear to be moving when he was first spotted floating in the river, chopper pilot Cpl. Ed Henderson told WINK-TV. He said if Miele had remained in the water for a few more hours, rescuers may have been too late.

“Turns out, when I talk to a guy after the fact that was on scene, he goes, ‘No, he was convulsing,’” Henderson said. “He’d been in the water for two solid days and it’s been really cold.”

Officials didn't immediately say how or when Miele lost his kayak.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.