PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Two Pinellas County deputies are speaking out for the first time after they intercepted a runaway boat traveling through Tampa Bay.
Like something out of an action movie, body camera video shows a Marine Unit Deputy Travis Fernandes leaping onto the speeding boat and taking control of the vessel.
The incident happened last week when a boater went overboard and left his vessel unmanned and speeding ahead at more than 40 miles per hour.
Fernandes and another marine unit officer, Deputy Jillian Constant, were called to help the Coast Guard intercept the vessel.
“It could have been catastrophic. It was right outside the main shipping channel, about 3/4 of a mile off the St. Pete Pier. This is a heavily-trafficked area, especially on a Sunday evening,” Constant said.
Constant was operating the patrol boat, and managed to catch up with the runaway vessel.
“When you pin your starboard side against the vessels portside, it creates like a suction, so you end up being very stable,” Constant explained.
Then Deputy Fernandes took a leap of faith and jumped onto the boat and took control.
“It felt smooth, definitely a rush, you know it was cool, and it was awesome to be able to stop that vessel without spending any time, not wasting time. just get it done,” said Deputy Fernandes. “We look forward to events like this. We were excited on the way to the call.”
Excitement aside, the team said the maneuver is incredibly dangerous and requires extensive training and skill, along with a specialized boat.
“We drive boats 10 hours a day, four times a week, so we’re not just driving, but being on the water all the time. We train for this stuff, we train for all sorts of incidences, so it’s not ok for someone to try to do this on their own,” Deputy Fernandes added.
PCSO said the driver who fell off the boat was rescued by a good Samaritan.
Deputies also said this is an important reminder to always wear your kill switch.