Three Teen Rescued From Capsized Boat In Florida
Three Orange County, California teen boys were rescued from their capsized boat in the Florida Keys an hour before sunset Tuesday.
Zachary Sowder, 18, Jacob Sowder, 16, and Brent Shishido, 18, were on a 22-foot rental boat when it suddenly capsized in rough waters.
There were about three miles off of Little Torch Key and one of the teens luckily had a phone to call for safety.
“They are so, so lucky,” Monroe County Sherriff’s office Marine Deputy James Hager, who helped rescue the teens, told PEOPLE. “If we hadn’t found them by sunset it might have been a different story.”
Hager said the call from dispatch regarding an “overturned vessel” came in at about 3:15 p.m. and he immediately set out with Fish and Wildlife investigator David Bingham to look for the missing teens.
“I kept thinking about the (recent) incident in (Florida) with the two teen boys and became frantic to find these guys,” Hager said to PEOPLE in reference to Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, both 14, who set out on a boat ride and were never seen again. “It was getting close to sunset, within an hour of it, when we finally spotted them.”
Apparently the boys were on vacation with their families in Florida and rented the board. They were the only ones on board as they anchored the boat in 30 feet of water and the boat started “taking on water,” said a statement released by the Monroe County Sheriff’s office, to PEOPLE. By the time they cut the anchor line the boat had taken on too much water and began to capsize.
“I told the dispatchers to tell them to stay on the boat, since the water was so rough,” explains Hager to PEOPLE. He said waves usually range from three to five feet at that time in the afternoon. “We almost didn’t see them they were so far off land, but when we saw each other it was like this huge sense of relief.”
Since the boat capsized so quickly the teens were unable to grab life vests in time. Upon being rescued they were reunited with their father on land, who was happy to see them.
“We talked and shook hands and hugged it out with the boys and they were very thankful when their dad showed up,” says Hager told POEPLE. “Their dad explained that he had only been to the Keys a few times and each time they go out fishing and spearfishing. They just wanted to go out and catch fish.”