A Florida man was rescued by deputies, then later arrested, after falling into a creek and suffering hypothermia.
Deputies from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded to an area off of Dawn Heights Drive in unincorporated east Lakeland on Tuesday evening, January 18, 2022, after several callers reported that a man could be heard screaming for help in the woods.
When deputies arrived at around 8:27 PM, they located 52-year old Dillard Hamilton of Auburndale, with the assistance of a PCSO Drone Unit and helicopter. Hamilton was chest-deep in a creek, clinging to a tree.
Hamilton was shivering, moving very slowly, and appeared confused as deputies rescued him from the water.
He told deputies that he had been walking in the woods when he got lost and fell into the creek, and estimated that he had been in the woods for about 6-7 hours prior to being located.
Hamilton was checked out at the scene by members of Polk County Fire Rescue who said that his body temperature was down to 84-degrees Fahrenheit. He was transported to a local hospital for hypothermia.
At the hospital, Hamilton became uncooperative with medical staff, refused treatment, and was released from the hospital.
Deputies had discovered that Hamilton had outstanding Polk County warrants for Burglary of Conveyance, Grand Theft Motor Vehicle, and Grand Theft, so as soon as he was released from the hospital, he was arrested and transported to the Sheriff’s Processing Center in Winter Haven.
“Deputies did a fantastic job with this rescue, and despite the conditions, they were able to locate Hamilton and pull him to safety rather quickly. Given his condition, they probably got to him just in time. We are also looking into why he was out there in the first place. He has a history of burglaries and thefts, so that is being investigated,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
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