TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said a group of good Samaritans helped them rescue 11 people after their boat capsized near Beer Can Island on Sunday.
Around 5:24 p.m., the sheriff’s office received a call about several people stranded in the water just east of Beer Can Island.
A sheriff’s office helicopter flew over the scene and spotted the vessel upside down with several people swimming around it.
“When our marine unit got there, our deputies saw there was two gentlemen on the hull of the boat as it was completely capsized and overturned and they were able to get there and put those two onto our boat,” said Marco Villarreal with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office.
A group of people in another boat saw the boat start sinking and went to rescue the boaters. They were able to get some of them on their boat. Those boaters were relocated to HCSO’s boat and taken to the Apollo Beach Marina.
“Thankfully there were some good Samaritans that were able to get there first and take most of the people that were in the water and put them into their boat,” said Villarreal.
Two men were still hanging from the hull when the sheriff’s office’s marine unit arrived at the scene. Both men were rescued. One was hospitalized after complaining of chest pains and shortness of breath, authorities said.
“Thanks to the willingness of some local boaters to help out, a group of 11 people, consisting of men, women, and children, were saved after they were stranded in the water when their seacraft capsized,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “Almost all the victims were wearing life preservers. We remind everyone to always have the right amount of life vests for each person on a boat, as well as keeping stock of all other safety and emergency equipment.”
The U.S. Coast Guard and Sea Tow assisted the sheriff’s office in its search efforts and the recovery of the boat.