KEY BISCAYNE (CBSMiami) – A pair of brothers ran into trouble in Biscayne Bay Monday morning when the 12-foot boat they were on sank near Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.
According to one of men’s girlfriends, the two men are brothers and they had gone out fishing. Around 2 a.m., their boat took on water and capsized. One of the men managed to make it to shore and call for help.
The other spent the next seven hours treading water in the bay before help finally arrived.
Around 10 a.m. Chopper4 over the scene spotted Key Biscayne Fire Rescue paramedics attending him as Key Biscayne police officers walked the shoreline looking for his brother.
Hundreds of yards off the beach the second, dressed in a short sleeved shirt and long dark pants, desperately hugged the lid from a cooler as he struggled to reach shore.
“The gentleman didn’t have a life jacket on unfortunately when the boat capsized,” said Lt. Commander Joseph Abeyta of the U.S. Coast Guard. “It happened all too quickly, so he was unable to get to his life jacket. So him and his brother were hanging on to this [cooler lid] and the base of the cooler.”
Within moments a Coast Guard crew arrived and pulled him aboard their boat. When the man reportedly complained about back pain, he was placed on a backboard. He was taken to Crandon Park Marina where he was checked out by paramedics. Both men were then taken to Mercy Hospital.
The Coast Guard said considering what they had been through, the men appeared to be in good shape.
“He’s fine, he’s just a little shocked I think,” said the victim’s girlfriend Vanessa Florido. “He’s been in the water for a really long time, so he’s really cold. He has really bad back problems, so he wasn’t able to move basically because his back hurt too much.”
Abeyta said if you’re faced with a similar situation, it’s best to stay with the boat.
“The Coast Guard always recommends if you are in a capsizing, stay with the vessel because generally the vessel is going to float and your chances of being spotted are much greater,” said Lt. Cmdr. Abeyta.