DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating after a Destin woman kayaking the Destin Harbor went missing on Saturday, Feb. 11.
32-year-old Bethany Newman was found dead in the harbor the next morning.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and FWC officers began to search the harbor on Feb. 11 after someone spotted a man holding onto floating pylons behind Harbor Docks Restaurant around 9 pm.
The man told officers he and Bethany were kayaking the harbor after dark, around 6:15 pm, when a wave from a passing boat knocked them over. The man was able to make it to safety but could not find Bethany.
The man said they were in a green kayak behind Gilligans Watersports when it happened.
OCSO sent their first Aqua Alert for the missing kayaker at 9:45 pm on Feb. 11. The notification was sent on the Sheriff’s mobile application and is aimed to have locals help search the water to find missing swimmers or boaters.
The Aqua Alert setting must be turned on by the user in the app to be notified. OCSO said the first alert had an incorrect time stamp but was issued quickly after the man was found that night.
“He had reportedly clung to that pylon several hours before anyone was aware of the incident and he was recovered. So dispatch put out the AA. Meantime we asked the app company about the wrong date showing up and they said we can not edit a push once it’s been sent out and if the “schedule send” was toggled but a date was not selected before scheduling.”Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Michele Nicholson
The alert included the direction of the current and details of Bethany’s appearance to help in the search.
“That is the primary way Aqua Alerts our issued, directly from our dispatch via a mobile app phone notification system. Please encourage other boaters and fishing friends to download the app as well. The more eyes on the water the better and we greatly appreciate the outpouring of compassion in this heartbreaking incident.”Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Michele Nicholson
OCSO released a video showing folks how to turn on the Aqua Alert system in the app.
FWC said the man found floating in the water was injured and EMS transported him to a local hospital for treatment.
The incident is still under investigation.