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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A sad story of rescue, survival, and tragic lost in the Florida Keys

Here's a U.S. Coast Guard picture:

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission boatcrew on scene Oct. 9, 2011, with a boat that capsized and sank near Marathon, Fla., Oct. 8, 2011. Seven of the eight boaters aboard the boat were rescued by the Coast Guard and a good Samaritan.

and there's a sad story of rescue, survival, and tragic lost behind the picture as reported by news24 of Florida this morning:

Marathon - Four hours into a family fishing trip, rough waves flipped a boat off the Florida Keys, tossing eight people overboard. Some didn't know how to swim. Seven of them, including a 4-year-old girl, survived by clinging desperately to their capsized vessel and a small cooler for almost 20 hours, suffering exhaustion, jellyfish stings and hypothermia. 
"When the will to live kicks in, human beings can do amazing things," Coast Guard Petty Officer Nick Ameen said. 
But the 79-year-old matriarch of the group remained missing on Monday and was presumed drowned.
The family went fishing on Saturday morning in less-than-ideal conditions. It was raining, seas topped 2.1m and winds were whipping up to 61kph. After they anchored 5.6km off the island chain, two waves hit suddenly, capsizing the vessel.
 
The women had just enough time to grab the girl, the cooler and a single life jacket. One of the men tried to rescue his mother, but she slipped through his grasp and disappeared. 
Almost immediately, the two groups - the three women and girl and the three men - drifted apart.
Nearly a day later, as the weather improved on Sunday, fishing boat captain David Jensen headed out with customers to catch live bait. In the distance, he saw a large object floating in the water.
At first, he said, he thought there was only one person holding on to the sunken boat, its bow protruding a few feet out of the water. Then he got closer.
 
"I tried to get them to swim to the boat, but they said they didn't know how to swim," Jensen said. "Then I had the mate throw them life jackets. One guy put on the life jacket and swam to the boat. The other two guys wouldn't get off the boat. ... They said they didn't know how to swim." 
One of Jensen's customers jumped in and swam over. He tied the boats together, and helped the other two men, one at a time, back to Jensen's boat. 
"They were exhausted. One guy overnight had lost his mother," Jensen said. "He was very visibly upset, which was a little tough because he was the one who spoke the best English." 
Zaida San Jurjo Gonzalez died. Her son, Jorge Alejo Gonzalez, survived along with his wife, Tomasa Torres, the elderly woman's daughter, Elena G Gonzalez, and her boyfriend, Juglar Riveras. 
Also rescued were Jorge and Elena Gonzalez's uncle, Jose Miguel De Armas, his wife, Yunisleidy Lima Tejada, and their 4-year-old daughter, Fabiana De Armas Lima. All are from Florida. 
After the men were found, the fishermen called the US Coast Guard, which found the women hanging on to the floating cooler. 
All of the boaters were soon reunited and treated for shock and hypothermia. 
"They were all pretty happy to see each other," said Kendra Graves, a seaman with the Coast Guard.
It wasn't clear if the boaters were aware of a small-craft advisory that had been posted early on Saturday, warning of bad weather.
 
"They shouldn't have been out there," said Florida Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Robert Dube, whose agency is investigating. "It was nasty from the get-go." 
- AP
There is not much one can add to this well reported case.  There are already 1174 article published according to Google.  A video report on NBC Today show can be found here.  Our hearts goes to the family for their ordeal and loss.  May God's blessing be with them!  There was small-craft advisory out there, so boaters should always keep close attention to these advisory and warnings.  We can never guard against the unexpected or unpredictable things, but at least we should be closely on alert on what has been predicted and never, never take any undue chances!


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