David Schink and his wife Judy were on vacation in Destin, Florida this February as they have done for the last decade.
David was a seasoned water sportsmen who loved skiing and swimming. A collegiate swimmer, David also was an instructor as an adult who also enjoyed getting out on the water as often as he could.
David was a loving father and grandfather, who cared deeply about his family and brought a smile to everyone’s faces.
On February 13th 2021, David went kayaking in the ocean waters near Destin, as he had countless times before during the past few years.
This time, however, he would not return.
After a long search, the Coast Guard found his kayak and half a paddle on February 14th, but they did not find David. The Coast Guard suspended their search for him on February 15th as the waters would have been too rough and cold for survival to be likely.
That’s how our family lost a one-of-a-kind husband, father and grandfather.
We’re hoping that by sharing David’s story, we will not only save others from enduring our heartbreak, but we’ll also preserve his memory in a meaningful way.
What will the funds be used for?
Our primary goal for the David Schink Memorial Fund is to prevent this kind of tragedy from ever happening again. The funds raised will help us in educational and preventative measures, such as:
1. Installing a surveillance camera(s) on the beachfront (near where David went missing) overlooking the ocean. Surveillance would greatly assist the Coast Guard, and/or other local agencies, helping them determine which direction a watercraft was last headed. This could help narrow their search and speed up the response time when every minute matters.
2. Provide kayak manufacturers with water safety literature to be included with every purchase. This literature should include what type of waterway the kayak is safe for (small lakes, large lakes, rivers and/or oceans) as well as reminders on common safety tips. David was a seasoned professional on the water and had well ever a decade of experience, if a tragedy like this can happen to him, it can happen to anyone.
2b. Erect sign(s) on/near local (Destin, FL) waterways with water safety tips and/or lists of what items to bring with you in case of emergency.
3. Our family would also like to see an “Amber Alert” style emergency system implemented. Similar to an Amber Alert (where people’s cell phones receive an alert about a missing child), this “Aqua Alert” system could send alerts to people’s cell phones about missing boaters or unsafe water conditions. This system could help save lives by increasing the number of aboard assisting in a search and increasing the response time. It could also save lives by notifying boaters of unsafe water conditions and alerts to leave the water. Money raised by the Memorial Fund would enable us to spread the word about this system to local lawmakers and constituents as it would need to be implemented on a governmental level.
3b. We also believe it’s important that all boats be equipped with, or at least sold with, reflective and IR tape so that rescue aircraft/boats can easily see them during day or night. Ideally, the tape would be positioned on the top and bottom of the respective crafts so they can be seen even if the craft has capsized. The Memorial Fund would again help us raise awareness of this possible life-saving idea to local lawmakers and other influential organizations.
The money raised by the David Schink Memorial Fund would be used in our efforts to educate people about proper ocean water safety through literature, signage and increased awareness, as well as our efforts to prevent future loss of life with installation of additional surveillance cameras.
While some of this may seem obvious, David was no stranger to the water and would be considered an expert as both a swimmer and an operator of water vessels. Despite all of this, he still made some of these mistakes.
While we may never know what happened to him, it is possible that even one of these suggested changes could have saved his life. We truly believe these changes will go a long way not just in the way search and rescue operations are ran, but how the public approach their own safety before they hit the water.