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Man to be reunited with prosthetic leg caught by Florida shrimp boat captain

Nick Tomecek / AP

Matt Willingham, owner of the shrimp boat Michele Dawn, looks for identifying features on a prosthetic leg at his dock in Valparaiso, Fla.

A man who lost his $30,000 prosthetic leg while swimming Memorial Day weekend plans to get it back Monday thanks to a Florida shrimp boat captain.

Matt Willingham, who owns the Michele Dawn shrimp boat and Willingham Seafood, told the Northwest Florida Daily News that he thought he had caught a body when he first saw a foot about 2:30 a.m. Thursday while shrimping in the Choctawhatchee Bay between Fort Walton Beach and Destin. Then he realized that the foot was part of a prosthetic limb.


"We've caught (portable toilets), boat trailers and crab traps," Willingham told the Daily News. "This was the first to catch a prosthetic leg."

The Soleus limb wore a Keen water sandal in what appeared to be a size 9 or 10, the Daily News reported.

The leg is emblazoned with the logo, motto and wildcat mascot from the University of Kentucky airbrushed on the molded knee. It came up in Willingham’s turtle excluder, the Daily News reported. Willingham said that if the limb had been in the water longer, it would have been covered with barnacles.

Willingham reached out to local media and authorities, who thought the worst.

Fred Robinson, a Crestview, Fla., resident and native of Radcliff, Ky., stepped forward to claim his leg.

"Ain’t nobody dead," Robinson said, according to WildcatWorld.com. "Just give me back my leg."

Robinson lost the prosthetic limb while out boating, WildcatWorld reported. When Robinson jumped out of the boat to swim, the water current sucked the prosthetic limb out from under him and out of his reach before he could gain control of it. He had given up all hope of ever seeing the leg, he told the WildcatWorld.

Robinson, who played for the University of Kentucky football team in the '80s, lost his natural leg to a work-related accident in 2007 and had moved to Florida recently to continue his recovery, WildcatWorld reported.

He was scheduled to pick up the leg Friday, but his reunion with it was delayed to Monday.

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