WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - The dramatic rescue of Mark Miele is a surprise to his friends and neighbors.
"Obviously someone was looking out for him,” says Brian Roberts.
67-year-old Miele left his home in Williamsburg for the Florida Everglades on a solo kayaking trip on January 22.
Russ Colbert is his neighbor. He saw Miele before he left.
“I saw him strapping this boat to the top of his truck,” says Colbert.
Miele was supposed to come back home on the 29th.
“I did notice that he had been missing for a while,” adds Colbert.
On Sunday, park rangers found Miele's bag. That’s where they found his cellphone - and that discovery may have saved his life.
Data on the phone was able to give them a clue about where he could be. That’s when deputies took to the air looking for him. They could see Miele floating in the water with his yellow life jacket.
“I probably wouldn’t have survived based on the fact that I would’ve had a heart attack just from the fear of the gators,” said Roberts.
Roberts plays golf with Miele at a nearby country club in Williamsburg.
“It's awesome that someone was able to hold on an be strong and survive,” he adds.
Miele’s family released a statement Tuesday saying, “Mark is recovering and is stable. It’s a miracle he’s alive and in the condition he is in.”
People back here at home say Miele's survival is an inspiration.
“It just gives you hope when you do hear stories in the future when someone is missing that you can hold on to something,” said Roberts.
Colbert says, “Surviving a boat is incredibly important, so I’m very happy about that.”