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Rafters Found Off Stiltsville, Search Continues For 2 Still Missing

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Rafter Found Off Key Biscayne

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KEY BISCAYNE (CBSMiami) – A search is on for two missing rafters, after one person was found dead and another still floating on a homemade raft.  According to rescuers, the survivor said he was from Cuba.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, one person on a raft was located by a Good Samaritan approximately seven miles southwest of Key Biscayne, south of Stiltsville.

Ken and Deborah Cary were out boating when they spotted the man.  Ken Cary told CBS4’s Maggie Newland “We saw him in the water and he waved to us very weakly and I turned around and went back we gave him some water.”

They called the Coast Guard and rescue boats were sent to help.

“My first thought that went through my head was he probably came from Cuba.. and I thought that’s a hell of a long way to come,” Cary said.

A Miami Fire Rescue boat took the one survivor , who was found near Soldier Key, to Mercy Hospital in Coconut Grove.  “He looked like someone who had been at sea for six days. He had a tremendous amount of sores on both his lower extremities. He was extremely dehydrated.  His skin was extremely mottled, but he was conscious and alert,” explained Lt. James Harrison of Miami Fire Rescue. “He was asking about the other victims,” he said.

Coast Guard reported that he told them he lost the other three people as they crossed the Florida Straits.

Crews searched for two additional people with helicopters from air station Miami, and two Miami Beach boat crews, as well as Miami Fire Dept., Customs and Border Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Department.

Rescuers said the survivor cried when they told him the date was December ninth. It was his 43rd birthday. There is fear for the others who didn’t make it to shore. One family came to the Coast Guard station Monday night after hearing what happened. Family members saied they believe their loved ones were trying to come here from Cuba and they worry they may not have made it.

A Coast Guard cutter searched through the night.  The search from the air will resume Tuesday

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