Three boaters found themselves in danger as afternoon thunderstorms rolled through the Port Canaveral area on Labor Day. But a sheriff’s deputy who was assigned to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office marine unit only weeks before put himself in danger to help, and it made all the difference.
“That’s why I was headed that direction, to see if anyone was having any problems at all because of the size of the waves and the wind,” said Deputy James “Cody” Starr.
It was Labor Day holiday duty for the marine deputy. He was on patrol during port security when the weather started to take a turn.
The sheriff’s office got a call about a capsized boat in choppy waters at the edge of Port Canaveral. Deputy Starr spotted the boat with three men clinging to the side.
The boat was being tossed about in the waves, dangerously close to the rocks on the jetty. None of the men were wearing a life vest.
When he got to the scene, Starr said the men didn’t say much, “Just, ‘Can we get in the boat?'”
The deputy positioned himself as close to the men as possible and was able to pluck them, one by one, out of the rough water and onto his patrol boat. Starr then got them safely to shore, where medics were waiting.
“They were tired,” Starr recalled. “You could see it in their eyes; they were just done.”
Starr said he didn’t have time to worry that he was putting himself in danger to help them. He has been with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office for eight years, but was only assigned to the marine unit six weeks before the rescue.
The men shared a photo at the end of the experience, one this deputy — humble, even though it was his first big rescue — will never forget.
“I definitely will remember that day,” Starr said.
Despite treading water for nearly a half-hour, the men were fine and continued on with their vacation.