Florida Keys

Florida Keys Diver Separated From Boat Rescued After 10 Hours Drifting in Water

U.S. Coast Guard helicopter finds man drifting three miles from vessel

A diver who reported spending 10 hours drifting in water after being separated from his boat in the Florida Keys is rescued by the Coast Guard on Dec. 18, 2020.
U.S. Coast Guard

A diver who said he spent 10 hours in the water after drifting away from his boat in the Florida Keys was rescued by the Coast Guard early Friday.

U.S. Coast Guard officials said the man's wife called authorities around 10 p.m. Thursday when he didn't come home after leaving from Cudjoe Key to American Shoal Light to dive.

Crews from the Coast Guard stations in Miami and Key West began a search for the 50-year-old man and found his 20-foot boat anchored near American Shoal Light with no one aboard, officials said.

Around 12:30 a.m. Friday, a Coast Guard helicopter found the man in the water, about three miles from his boat off Saddlebunch Key, officials said.

"The man was wearing a strobe light, which allowed our aircrews to find him," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul Altieri.

Officials said the man's wife also helped give searchers an accurate position by tracking her husband's phone.

The man was reported to be cold and evaluated by emergency medical crews. He told the crews that he had surfaced from a dive and couldn't find his boat, and was drifting for about 10 hours before being found.

"We'd like to remind divers to always dive with a buddy and ensure the dive flag is posted," Altieri said.

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