Thursday, January 27, 2022

FWC Officer Kyle Plussa, Survivor and Owl Hero

“I’m doing alright for the shape I’m in.” ~ Joe Nichols

Marco Island’s City Council recently voted to improve the protection for endangered, threatened and listed species such as burrowing owls, gopher tortoises, and beach nesting and migratory coastal bird species. This is good news for Officer Kyle Plussa as a Florida Wildlife and Conservation Commission (FWC) officer.

Officer Klye Plussa is no stranger to the volunteers and monitors for Owl Watch Marco. He is well known for his passion for the protected species not only of Marco Island but for all Florida.  Kyle was the go-to FWC officer for the borrowing owls, gopher tortoises, sea turtles, manatees and beach nesting shorebirds in Marco.

After a prolonged medical absence, Officer Kyle Plussa has been medically cleared to return to modified work schedule and “light alternative duty” status at FWC. Kyle is glad to be back performing various administrative tasks, classroom instructional duties and mentorship to the newer officers. He has also taken on various speaking engagements throughout the state where he shares his inspirational story of his “second re-birth.”

For Kyle, there is no set timeline for when he can assume his field duties in uniform. He is keen to remind everyone that “he can take multiple steps in a single day.” He believes that he has been given a rare and priceless second chance. For Kyle, “the computer in his mind has to reboot through cycles of functioning with itself and with the body.”

Photos by Jean Hall | Officer Kyle Plussa gives a presentation to Owl Watch Marco on imperiled species regulations.

In August 3, 2018, Kyle was returning his rental truck when he was hit by a driver who crossed over the median. He incurred facial and head injuries, but luckily did not sustain any broken bones from the neck down. Doctors gave him 9 to 1 odds in favor of death. But here he is – independently living with family, driving, and returning to work and inspiring others with his “warrior spirit.”

It was the scariest moment of Kyle’s entire life when he first half-cracked his eyes open and he could see and feel all the wires, cables and tubes attached to him. He felt the most tremendous pain in his head, face and entire body. With these sensations, Kyle regained his first thought and a realization of the incident.

With every strength of his being he squeezed his fiance’s hands three times for “I Love You.” This action was also how she knew and shared with the doctors that “Kyle was still there though buried deep somewhere inside.”

Kyle is confident that he will eventually return to full patrol status. Owl Watch Marco is hoping to see him soon responding to questions on imperiled species regulations.

For Kyle, this journey is about all the miracles, not the tragedies. His advice is to “Slow down, make good memories and take time to cherish your loved ones.” Kyle Plussa is truly a hero to the Owl Watch Marco volunteers.

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