Lifestyle & Human Interest

Father, Daughter Missing in Alligator-Infested Lake After Jet Ski Sinks, Then Rescuers Hear Screaming


Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.

As the calendar trends toward summer and more people seek water sports to cool off, this story is a good reminder of several precautions to take when out on the water.

Always let someone know where you’re going, what your plans are and what your timeline is.

And always wear a properly fitted life vest.

Christopher Snow, 31, and his daughter Alexis, 13, very nearly fell victim to the water after their Jet Ski sank on Lake Thonotosassa, northeast of Tampa, Florida, on April 15.

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According to WTSP-TV, the pair had set out at 6:50 p.m. but still were not back at 8 p.m. By that time, Snow’s girlfriend, Carolyn Joyce sensed, something was wrong and flagged down Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Reich, who was in the area doing routine surveillance.

While he was waiting for marine and aviation units, a local with a boat offered his services and took the deputy onboard to begin scouring the lake.

Like most large Florida lakes, Thonotosassa, which is nearly 900 acres, has plenty of alligator inhabitants. To make matters worse, night had fallen, so the rescuers had to work extra hard to find the missing pair.

As they were out on the water, they heard screaming: It was Alexis, trying to get their attention.

Drawing closer, they spotted the father and daughter, who explained that their Jet Ski had sunk. They were wearing life vests, but they’d been treading water for over an hour by the time the boat pulled up alongside them.

After being helped on board, they were given towels and offered drinks. They were exhausted but unharmed — and relieved to be out of what could have been their watery graves.

“The swift response of our deputy and the assistance provided by the community played a crucial role in the successful rescue of Christopher, 31, and Alexis Snow, 13,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a Facebook post by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

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“We are relieved that they were returned to shore safely and without any injuries,” he said. “It is scary to imagine what could have happened had this father and daughter not been wearing their life jackets.”

After the rescue, Snow released a statement recognizing the help he and his daughter received and acknowledging that he wasn’t as prepared as he could have been.

“I want to thank both the boaters that helped and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for being on patrol and noticing something wasn’t right,” Snow said, according to WTSP.

“My life jacket wasn’t sized properly, so this is a good reminder to make sure yours is fitted correctly,” he said.

A woman commented on the video shared by the sheriff’s office, identifying herself and several others as the people who’d helped by lending the use of their boat.

“Glad we were able to find them and theyre safe,” SamanthaJo Catherine commented.

“[T]hank you for your help in this search and rescue!” the sheriff’s office replied. “We couldn’t have done it without you!”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking