FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue crews were at the scene of a capsized boat near Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday evening.
The 18-foot vessel capsized one mile off the coast of Rio Mar Street and A1A with five people on board at the time.
Four people were found clinging to the boat. Divers then searched for another person who was later found in the water and taken to Broward Health Medical Center in serious to critical condition.
Fort Lauderdale Deputy Fire Chief Timothy Heiser said a 911 call came in around 8:30 pm reporting the overturned boat.
“There were four souls clinging to the boat at the time it was located all wearing life jackets,” Heiser said. “It was reported that one person was missing.”
Heiser said highly trained rescue divers went into the ocean water and searched for the missing man.
“Initially they checked right under the boat to see if he was there and they started to search — with underneath being their starting point — and they found the victim shortly thereafter,” Heiser said.
It’s not clear how long the man was in the water. Fire Rescue crews told CBS 4 News that the 5 people onboard the boat were fishing and that the waters got rough. Heiser said that in the dark it’s disorienting and time is critical for rescuers as they try to save lives.
“The water’s cold and the water’s rough and you get tired and you can only hold on to a boat for so long,” he said. “Even with a life vest on if you separate from the boat it’s very difficult to find someone who breaks away from the vessel.”
We are told that a person on board the capsized boat was able to call 911 and helped to guide the Broward Sheriff’s Office helicopter to the vessel. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will handle the investigation into this case.