Coast Guard rescues unwitting drunk man one mile offshore, drifting on pool floatie

You heard right: The United States Coast Guard yesterday rescued a Florida man who got drunk, climbed into an inflatable swimming pool ring (the kind little kids use), passed out, and then drifted a mile offshore from Belleair Beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Fortunately, a concerned boater spotted what he thought was debris and came for a closer look, then called the Coast Guard to report what he thought was a dead body. Despite boat horns and loud shouting, the intoxicated man did not respond. Jerry Whipple, age 48, was both dazed and confused as the Coast Guard rescued him and transported him back to the nearest hospital for a closer look.

Mr. Whipple was later released, although he might still be charged with operating a seafaring craft while under the influence. That’s one small step for the Coast Guard . . . and one mile-wide leap for Florida.