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VIDEO: After Boat Capsized, Cooler Lid Barely Saves Life of Boater
USCG rescued a boater after the vessel he was fishing from capsized off of Key Biscayne

Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2012

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Despite a law that requires a life jacket or PFD onboard for each passenger on a vessel, the only way they can save your life is if you are actually wearing one.

This is a lesson that almost cost a man his life on Monday, as the 12-foot boat that he and his brother were fishing from, capsized and sank north of Cape Florida, in Biscayne Bay. The pair of brothers had gone out fishing, and at about 2 am on Monday morning their boat began taking on water and capsized.

Neither of the men had a life jacket on, and as often happens in these cases, everything happened so fast they had no time to grab one and put it on before they found themselves in the water scrambling for something to keep them afloat. Thankfully, they were able to cling to a cooler and its lid for several hours.

Eventually, one of the men was able to swim to shore and call for help. Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector Miami received a report from the City of Miami Fire Rescue of a man in the water holding on to a cooler screaming for help. Coast Guard Air Station Miami launched a MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter crew, and Coast Guard Station Miami Beach launched a Special Purpose Craft—Law Enforcement boat crew to rescue the man from the water.

“The gentleman didn’t have a life jacket on unfortunately when the boat capsized,” said Lt. Commander Joseph Abeyta of the U.S. Coast Guard, in a report on Miami news station CBS4, “It happened all too quickly, so he was unable to get to his life jacket. So him and his brother were hanging on to this [cooler lid] and the base of the cooler.”

After being rescued by the Coast Guard, the man complained of back pain. He and his brother were transported to Mercy Hospital.

Vanessa Florido, the victim's girlfriend, said that he suffers from very bad back problems, which made it painful for him to move, and that is why he could not get to shore on his own.

"The Coast Guard highly recommends the use of personal flotation devices to all boaters," said Petty Officer 1st Class Abiola Ideraabdullah, with Coast Guard Sector Miami Beach, Fla. "The chances for survival are greatly increased when boaters wear their flotation devices, along with using float plans describing your intentions."

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