Mike Basham, a Monroe County employee, knew he spotted something trapped in the water off Cudjoe Key during his morning rounds checking for dumped items along Blimp Road on Thursday.
At first it seemed like a hunk of lumber. But as he got closer, the object grew larger.
“Then, I saw what looked like a cab of a truck,” said Basham, supervisor of solid waste and recycling for the county. “I realized there was a pickup in the water.”
Basham called the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office; a dispatcher asked him to check if anyone was inside the truck. He walked to the water’s edge and saw a person’s head inside the truck.
Basham called out.
A woman replied, “Help me. Get me out of here,” according to an account by county public information officer Cammy Clark.
After chucking his shirt and boots, Basham waded chest-deep into the water to the Chevrolet Canyon to free the woman, who is in her mid-30s and from Orlando. She was in the Florida Keys to visit friends.
“She told him she did not know the road ended and drove into the water at 11 p.m.,” Clark said. “She was not injured and Basham said she surprisingly was not suffering from hypothermia.”
When Basham asked the woman why she had stayed in the truck all that time, despite waters rising to her chin during high tide, she said she didn’t know how to swim and it was pitch black outside.
Basham added, “She also was worried about snakes and sharks.”
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen