HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Two men are now safe after Hillsborough County deputies say they were rescued from sinking personal watercrafts near Beer Can Island.
The sheriff’s office says marine units were called out to an area just south of the Alafia River, and about a half-mile east of the shipping channel in Tampa Bay, around 5:40 p.m. Wednesday after an off-duty Hillsborough County firefighter saw a man in the water with his personal watercraft, which was about to go underwater.
Two deputies found the adult man whose personal watercraft was sinking and helped him onto their boat.
Deputies say the man told them his adult son was also on a personal watercraft on one of the nearby islands. Minutes later, deputies were able to find the son just north of Beer Can Island.
The marine unit deputies were able to tow the personal watercrafts to a ramp and the men were safely returned to shore.
A release from the sheriff’s office says both men were wearing a life jacket during the time of the incident.
“I’m relieved and thankful that these two men were wearing their life jackets because we could be looking at a very different scenario today,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “Remember to always check the weather, wear a life jacket and of course, never drink and boat. With summer right around the corner, I also want to take this time to remind all boaters to make sure your vessel is up to standards before you and your loved ones enjoy our beautiful waterways. Safe boating is the only way to truly enjoy the perks of living and visiting Tampa Bay.”
National Safe Boating Week is coming up on May 22 to May 28.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 836 boating accidents took place in 2020, which is 113 more accidents than the year prior. Since 2003, falling overboard has been the leading type of fatal accident with drowning as the leading cause of death. Of the drowning victims, 88 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
For more information on safe boating tips, visit the Safe Boating Campaign’s website.