Missing jet skier found safe in Pinellas waters

Posted at 3:22 AM, Apr 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-29 04:09:50-04

A nearly two hour search for a missing jet skier had a happy ending Thursday night.

Wallistein Hopkins, 48, of Clearwater was rescued safely near the Dunedin Causeway about 11 p.m.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, Hopkins and her girlfriend, whose name has not been released, were riding on a jet ski in the water when the vessel began to sink.

The woman, wearing a life vest, swam to shore to report the incident. She also said Hopkins had stayed with the jet ski while she went to get help. He was blowing a whistle to attract attention.

A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter rescue crew from Air Station Clearwater and a 24-foot special purpose craft-shallow water boat crew from Station Sand Key were launched to begin the search.

Someone spotted the jet ski in the water, but no one was onboard.

Shortly after 10:30 p.m. residents at a nearby condominium complex heard the sound of a whistle and directed the Jayhawk helicopter rescue crew in the direction of the sound. Hopkins was found standing in shallow water.

The Coast Guard conducted the search in partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Pinellas County Marine units, Pinellas County Fire Rescue, a Pinellas County helicopter crew and firefighters from Dunedin Fire Rescue.