Press Release

Subject: Deputies of the Month - January 2020
Incident Type:
Incident Date/Time 1/28/2020 6:00:00 AM
Expire Date/Time 2/28/2020 6:00:00 AM
Case Number:
Related Link:
Person/Suspect Info
Deputies of the Month – January 2020
Dep. Stephen Hill & Dep. Christopher Houghton

On July 2, 2019 at 2 a.m., three kayakers were in the center of the Sarasota Bay when their watercraft capsized, forcing them into the water. Dep. Stephen Hill and Dep. Christopher Houghton arrived on scene within minutes and could hear the victims screaming that someone was drowning and unable to swim.

The deputies were unable to see them with their spotlights or night vision equipment. The Coast Guard and Sarasota County Sheriff's Office were notified, but it was learned that there could be an extended response time. Based on the circumstances, Deputies Hill and Houghton made the decision to enter the water in an attempt to assist the victims.

As they were swimming out, they came across one of the victims who was able to tread water and directed her to swim back to shore. The deputies continued on and called out to the other two victims until eventually finding them approximately one mile off shore. One victim was unable to stay above the surface and had ingested water, while the other was screaming he was drowning. Dep. Hill placed the first victim's head on his shoulder and kept his head above water so he could breathe. Dep. Houghton grabbed the same victim's legs and held him up to the surface. They then grabbed the second victim and pulled him behind in a tow.

The deputies began swimming towards shore for approximately ten minutes. Dep. Houghton was able to use his flashlight to signal their position to the a Coast Guard vessel that was able to retrieve them from the water. After arriving back at the shore, the first victim who was able to swim on her own was reunited with the other victims.

Deputies Hill and Houghton put their own lives at risk by entering the water in the middle of the night to save others. For their heroic and selfless efforts to save the lives of all three victims, Dep. Stephen Hill and Dep. Christopher Houghton have been awarded MCSO’s “Deputies of the Month” for January 2020.

*** Video: Due to scheduling, interviews with Deputies Hill and Houghton along with B-roll and award ceremony video are available for media use at these links:

Award Presentation:

Interviews / B-roll: