2 lost hikers rescued in Florida Everglades

OPA-LOCKA, FLA. (WSVN) - Two men were rescued, Friday morning, after they were lost in the Florida Everglades for seven days.

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office chopper cam shows Miami-Dade Fire Rescue hoisting hikers Tom Rieker and Ryan Crowder to safety.

“We never gave up hope. I think, in another day or two, we might have gotten to that point, because we were pushed mentally and physically to the breaking point,” Rieker told 7News, “but we didn’t quite break yet.”

The two were found in the Big Cypress National Preserve with all the hazards one can face in the Everglades. The hikers said they were stuck in the preserve’s knee-deep water for about 10 miles.

“We were constantly having to go around alligators and water moccasins that were in the middle of the trail,” said Rieker. “We got some pretty good footage of them, but too bad our camera is toast from the water.”

Both men have safely returned home after the weeklong ordeal, lost in the Everglades.

“We set out from Everglades City on Saturday,” said Rieker.

Video from the air rescue crew inside Miami-Dade’s helicopter showed the moment the two were pulled on board.

Crowder and Rieker said they relied on each other when the situation looked grim.

“And that’s because we had teamwork. We had each other’s support,” said Crowder. “If it had been just one of us out there, we would have definitely broke.”

A sheriff’s office and police department also worked as a team to bring the hikers’ journey to a safe end.

Everyone involved in the rescue efforts snapped a picture with the hikers after they arrived at the Opa-locka Executive Airport.

“Their initial communication was, they called the 911 system, then they dropped the call.” said MDFR Lt. Alex Acosta. “Collier County was able to triangulate, and we were able to find them.”

Rieker and Crowder said they are very grateful their rescue arrived when it did.

“Lastly, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart, the appreciation that I wish I could show to you guys for rescuing us — The Miami-Dade Rescue Fire Department,” said Crowder.

Crowder and Rieker had been exploring the Everglades as part of their show “Explorida,” which they share on social media.

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