Woman rescued after getting lost during kayak cleanup at Bishop Harbor

Posted by JASON BARTOLONE on April 5, 2014 

— A woman was rescued after she got separated from her group of volunteers who were cleaning up the mangroves around Bishop Harbor on Saturday, authorities report.

The 36-year-old woman was among a group of kayakers taking part in a cleanup for Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources. They set out from Mariposa Key around 9:30 a.m., but when they met back about an hour later, the woman, identified as Rena Avellaneda, failed to show up, according to a Manatee County Sheriff's Office report.

The group then found her personal belongings and kayak still at the gathering point, the report indicates. They then spent several hours unsuccessfully trying to search for Avellaneda before contacting authorities with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, who in turn contacted the sheriff's office.

A sheriff's office helicopter was used to locate the woman about a half-hour away from the group's meeting point, authorities said. She was found in waist-high water around some thick brush in an area that was not accessible by boat, so several kayakers had to go in to retrieve her.

Avellaneda had fallen and bumped her head, causing her to lose her sense of direction, the sheriff's report indicates, and she could not find her way back to the group. She was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital for evaluation.

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