A charter boat captain is sharing the story of how a fishing expedition turned into a rescue mission when they found a man stranded on a capsized vessel at sea.
On Friday morning, Capt. Chase Cornell of Fort Pierce, Florida, took six guests onboard their boat to go fishing, and when Cornell spotted something in the water, he took their boat to it, hoping for a plethora of fish. Instead, what they found was a man in dire need of help.
"As we got closer, I saw the gentleman raise his hand up and start waving at me," Cornell told WPBF. "That's when I knew we weren't fishing anymore. We were actually there to rescue somebody."
Cornell said the man had a life jacket on and was "clinging to the boat" that had capsized. He shared photos of the ordeal on Facebook, recounting how they rescued him.
"We tossed him the life ring and got him onboard. He was hypothermic and dehydrated," recalled Cornell. "We wrapped him up in blankets and put him in front of the engine room companionway for warmth. … Thankful to have been in the right place at the right time."
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According to WPBF, the man told the boat crew that he'd been stranded at sea for some 36 hours, and the six people he traveled with from the Bahamas had disappeared into the Atlantic, and he'd drifted about 100 miles north. Cornell told Treasure Coast Newspapers that the man "was stiff, he had been in the saltwater for almost 36 hours. He wasn't going to make it through the day."
The Coast Guard eventually arrived and took the man to help him recover. On Sunday night, the Coast Guard suspended the search for the six other people who were reported as missing.
"Coast Guard Sector Miami watchstanders received a call from a good Samaritan stating they had rescued a Jamaican national from the water while he was atop a capsized vessel about 23 miles east of Fort Pierce," read a press release. "A Coast Guard Station Fort Pierce 45-foot Response Boat—Medium crew launched to the scene, received the survivor and transferred him ashore to local emergency medical services. The survivor reported to the Coast Guard that there were six other people who were in the water after their boat capsized Wednesday after they departed from Bimini, Bahamas."
The Coast Guard said they searched an area of 10,694 miles for a total of 140 hours before the search suspended.
Cornell later told WPBF of the rescue that he was "just kind of doing my job and was able to be in the right place at the right time." He added, "For us to cross paths, it was nothing short of a miracle."
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