Four men saved by U.S. Coast Guard after boat capsizes west of Anna Maria Island

Four men saved by U.S. Coast Guard after boat capsizes west of Anna Maria Island

acastillo@bradenton.comJune 2, 2014 

CORTEZ -- Four men were saved Sunday by the U.S. Coast Guard after their 28-foot boat capsized 20 nautical miles west of Anna Maria Island.

Responding agencies included the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Cortez and the Air Station in Clearwater.

Petty Officer Crystalynn Kneen, public affairs specialist for the Coast Guard, said the station received a call in the evening.

"One of the gentlemen aboard the vessel was calling out because he said his boat was taking on water," she said Monday afternoon, adding the man contacted the Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg via VHF-FM channel 16 radio. "We launched stations in Cortez and a helicopter from the air station. Once we gave Cortez the position, they actually found them pretty quickly."

After the man called, watchstanders lost communication with him. Watchstanders are members of the Coast Guard who monitor VHF-FM radio for search-and-rescue calls

for assistance in the command center.

A response boat from Coast Guard Station Cortez reportedly located the capsized boat with the men clinging to the hull.

"There are no medical concerns," Kneen said of the men's condition, adding no injuries were reported.

The Coast Guard is not releasing the men's names because the case closed before they were able to do so, Kneen said.

Lt. Cmdr. Lou Hodac of the USCG Air Station in Clearwater said the helicopter was already out on a case to the north before it was diverted to help with the incident by Anna Maria Island.

"By the time the helicopter got there, people had already been retrieved by the Coast Guard vessel," he said.

As for what caused the boat to capsize, Kneen said the man who called did not say when he called for aid.

"We don't have an exact reasoning because the boat already capsized," she said, adding the boat owner plans on contacting a salvage company to recover his vessel.

Kneen stressed the importance of all the men wearing life jackets.

"When something like that happens -- when you're on a capsized boat and lose communication like that -- those life jackets that they put on are amazing," Kneen said. "That situation without life jackets could have deteriorated very quickly."

The Coast Guard tells boaters to keep their life jackets on, Kneen added.

"That is a must," she said. "That's the difference between life and death right there."

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