LITTLE TORCH KEY, Fla. (AP) — Three stranded teenage boys from California called 911 and calmly sat atop a capsized boat before being rescued from waters off the Florida Keys, authorities said Wednesday.
Monroe County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Becky Herrin says Zack Sowder and Brent Shishido, both 18, and Jacob Sowder, 16 — all of Orange County, California — were perched on the overturned hull, their life jackets trapped under the 22-foot vessel, when help arrived Tuesday.
Marine Deputy James Hagar spotted the teens in waters about 2 ½ miles off the coast and brought them safely ashore in his patrol boat. A photo released by the sheriff’s office showed the teens seated on a small section of the hull that still jutted above the waters.
“Fortunately they knew their rough location. They were lucky they had a cell signal,” sheriff’s officials wrote on their Facebook page.
Hagar had just taken his boat out of the water around 3:15 p.m. Tuesday when he got the call about the stranded teenagers.
“He quickly put the boat back in the water,” Herrin said in a statement.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigator David Bingham joined Hagar in the search for the boys. “They spent some time looking, but they found the three boys and loaded them on board the patrol boat, bringing them safely back to shore,” Herrin said.
The teens had anchored the 22-foot rented boat on the Atlantic side of Little Torch Key, which is some 30 miles north of Key West.
Later Tuesday, Zack Sowder showed his sense of humor on social media.
“Make sure your bilge works before you run five miles offshore and realize it’s too late,” Zack Sowder tweeted Tuesday night, along with two photos from the scene. “Other than that great day on the water.”