Have consequences ever caught you entirely off guard? I know they’ve swooped in and surprised me, but never in so dramatic a way as they did for Larry Walters.
See, back in 1982, Walters tied some helium-filled weather balloons to his lawn chair, planning to simply float along. He ended up in federal airspace and got his balloons tangled in power lines when he tried to land.
It’s easy to wonder how someone like Walter couldn’t have seen the ways in which his stunt would’ve gone wrong. But for Tara Myers of Bradenton, Florida, her misadventure started with nothing more than a misapprehension as to how far an inflatable pool toy could float.
“We are a nautical family,” Myers told WWLP. “We spend time on the water all the time.”
So she thought nothing of taking her 7-year-old son with her to Anna Maria Island on Oct. 21. On the surface, it looked like a perfect day.
No wind. No waves. No threatening thunderstorms. It seemed an ideal time to take to the water.
They’d brought water toys, too, one of which was an utterly delightful indulgence. Myers and her son soon plopped themselves on a giant, inflatable swan and began to bob in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Soon, though, things went terribly wrong. Though you couldn’t tell from the top of the waters, strong currents ran deep below — and one of them caught the swan in its wake.
In no time at all, the pair found themselves far out in deep water. They were miles from shore.
“You feel very small and can’t be heard or seen. Totally invisible,” Myers said.
“I was not sure if we were going to keep drifting because land just kept getting farther and farther and farther away.” So she started to kick, dangling her legs in the water and trying to power them toward shore.
“I was just exhausted, and we were not going anywhere. Like I was doing that for an inch,” she said.
Myers tried to keep up a brave front for her son. But she knew their situation was dire.
There was no guarantee that they could made it back to dry land. She wasn’t even sure that anyone had contacted the authorities or that rescuers could find them.
Fortunately, Myers was wrong on that last point. Beachgoers had seen the tide snare them.
They quickly contacted first responders. Eventually, Myers and her son saw a West Manatee Fire Rescue vessel come racing toward them, its lights blazing.
“I literally just laid down on that swan float and cried,” Myers said. “So hard because this could have ended so much worse, and I didn’t want [my son] to know that I was that scared.”
She says she learned a lesson from the whole ordeal. The only time she plans to board an inflatable will be in a pool.
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