MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Four people are dead, eleven others rescued by U.S. Coast Guard crews after they were found clinging to the hull of an overturned boat seven miles east of Miami.
The Coast Guard received a report of a capsized vessel around 1 a.m. Wednesday.
“The Miami-Dade Police department received a 911 distress call from a cell phone from a person claiming to be clinging from a vessel that had capsized with people in the water,” said Coast Guard Commander Darren Caprara.
Three Coast Guard boats, one cutter, a helicopter and search plane were dispatched to the area.
When rescue crews arrived at the location east of Government Cut, they found 10 people clinging to the hull of the 25-foot boat.
“We effectively re-righted the vessel and we tragically found four bodies, adult females, underneath. And then an adult male who somehow was able to find some sort of air pocket and we were able to rescue the male,” said Caprara.
The Coast Guard said those rescued were from Haiti and Jamaica. The nine men and two surviving females were taken into custody. One of the females is in her teens.
Family and friends showed up at the US Coast Guard station Wednesday because they couldn’t get answers of the fateful overnight smuggling trip that ended with four women dead.
“I just want to get to the bottom of it. We want to find out…where is he because he’s only 20-years-old,” said Rose Bastien who may have family on board.
“She was attempting to come here and I received that phone call last night around maybe 11 o’clock. And then heard on the news that a boat capsized around one in the morning,” said Wendy Guillaume a family friend of a passenger.
Ten migrants are being held on a US Coast Guard Cutter following a daring attempt to reach freedom early Wednesday morning.
Cheryl Little, a veteran immigrant advocate, said that the Coast Guard has actually been encountering a rise in Haitian immigrants.
“Desperate people do desperate things,” said Little.
The Coast Guard said this appears to be a smuggling operation and the apparent smugglers didn’t appear to care for the safety of these people. The Coast Guard did not find a single life jacket.
“Sadly most of these cases have common themes. Taking risky voyages in the dark of night, not using proper navigation equipment, typically they don’t have enough life jackets and boating safety is the last thing on their mind and sometimes they do end tragically,” said Caprara.
Officials say one man who was suffering from some type of seizure was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital but then released to Border Patrol officials.
The Coast Guard says a Miami-Dade police helicopter assisted in the eight hour search for more possible survivors. None were found.
The Coast Guard is working with Customs and Border Protection to identify the survivors and decide whether they will be processed here in the states, or be sent back to their native countries.