Deputies Save Couple from Drowning


January 22, 2024

On January 21, 2024 at 8:55 p.m. Levy County Deputies responded to the boat ramp located at the end of CR 40 East to a report of a vehicle in the water. CR 40 dead ends into the Gulf of Mexico at this boat ramp and unfortunately this is not the first time LCSO has responded to a call of this nature.

Deputy Cody Weaver arrived and his headlights illuminated a truck approximately 75 yards from the end of the ramp. He could see two people in the bed of the truck. Deputy Dakota Dowling arrived shortly after Deputy Weaver as the people in the truck entered the water in an attempt to swim to shore.

The couple, identified as 77 year old Frank Fournier and 68 year old Elena Van Kampen who both list Inglis addresses, were quickly overcome by the 54 degree water temperature and began yelling for help. Deputies Weaver and Dowling entered the water and were able to rescue the victims, aiding them to shore and into the back of a nearby waiting ambulance. Both of the victims as well as both deputies were transported to Seven Rivers Hospital and treated for exposure. The deputies were released after a complete examination and returned to duty completing the remainder of their shift.  The victims were held for further observation. The truck, a 2024 Denali, was recovered from the Gulf this morning.

Sheriff McCallum said, “The quick thinking and selfless sacrifice these deputies displayed is a testament to their dedication to the safety of our citizens. The deputies endured extremely cold water and an even colder air temperature (42 degrees) which placed their own life in jeopardy. Thankfully everyone was rescued safely and the couple is expected to make a full recovery.”