Without quick-thinking research group, including students from USF and FSU, boater says he wouldn’t have survived
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (June 22, 2015) – A quick-reacting crew and students on board the Florida Institute of Oceanography’s Weatherbird II research vessel are credited with saving a distressed boater’s life late Saturday night near Egmont Key.
The team from FIO, a statewide collaborative research and education institute hosted at the USF College of Marine Science, was returning to shore around 9 p.m. when they heard an urgency call from the U.S. Coast Guard explaining that three men were in the water, separated from their boat about two miles away from the Weatherbird’s location.
While Coast Guard crewmembers quickly rescued two boaters, the third remained missing in the water.
Without hesitation, seven members of the research vessel crew and six graduate students- two from the University of South Florida, two from Florida State University, one from Old Dominion University and one visiting from Italy- immediately sailed in the direction provided by Coast Guard watchstanders.
After searching for about an hour in extremely dark conditions, even shutting off all non-vital engine systems in hopes of hearing the man screaming for help, the group spotted him in the water and pulled him safely on board.
The man was extremely dehydrated and told the group he could have only survived for a few more minutes.
Once he was pulled to safety, the Coast Guard arrived with the other two boaters, leading to an emotional reunion with all three expressing gratitude to the research team.
“We are so proud of the entire crew for their bravery and professionalism in what was surely an extremely stressful situation. Our FIO research vessels not only provide valuable educational experiences to students and faculty, but they also save lives!” said USF System President Judy Genshaft.
For additional information on the Coast Guard’s role in the rescue, please contact the Public Affairs Office at (305) 965-4672.