‘A gator almost flipped us over!’ Lost kayakers describe rescue in Seminole County

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Allison Havelin, her friend and her friend’s children started their day on a kayak, but ended it on land, being rescued.

The reason? “We were kayaking and a gator almost flipped us over,” Havelin told dispatchers during a 911 call.

“We saw what we presumed to be a fish or something jump ahead,” Havelin told Eyewitness News. “As we came up to it, a gator must have been trying to go after it in some regard. The gator came up, and it brushed against our kayak, and we didn’t tip over, but we came pretty close, and the tail of the gator came across the (backside) of the kayak.”

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But before that, the inflatable kayak the young children were riding in was sliced by something in the water. All six of them had to load up in the two remaining kayaks.

“We divided it up as best as possible to make the two kayaks have as equal weight as possible,” Havelin said.

When they all made it on land, Havelin called 911, and dispatchers located her through the GPS on her phone -- plus other features.

“Because she had a good charge on her phone, she was able to use the flashlight feature and ... shine it up at us,” Seminole County Sheriff’s spokesman Bob Kealing said. “It just further helped determine where she was.”

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Havelin said she is glad the experience is over.

“I don’t know if I’ll be in the kayak any time soon,” Havelin said with a laugh. “We will probably do it again, we’ll be more strategic and plan the day a little better.”

Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich, WFTV.com

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.