Nine Boaters Rescued from Sinking Vessels Amid Small Craft Advisory

Over the weekend, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Marine Unit, alongside the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and MyFWC Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), rescued nine boaters from two separate reports of sinking vessels while a small craft advisory was in place.

On Saturday, April 13, around noon, the CCSO Marine Unit was dispatched to a sinking vessel with two subjects in the water, located approximately 14 miles northwest of Shell Island. Upon arrival, Marine Deputies Sudlow and Seidenstucker observed a 17-foot fiberglass vessel capsized, with two adults in the water holding onto the boat. A north wind was blowing approximately 15 to 20 mph causing large, six-foot waves. Deputies got both subjects on CCSO’s Marine Unit vessel and transported them to Pete’s Pier in Crystal River, where FWC completed the investigation. Thankfully, the individuals were not injured; however, they were very cold due to the water temperature being 68 degrees.

Just six hours later, CCSO’s Marine Unit was dispatched to another sinking vessel with five adults and two juveniles on board, located approximately 18 miles southwest of Shell Island. Marine Deputies Sudlow, Seidenstucker, and Fischer responded alongside FWC and the USCG. Upon arrival, all seven subjects were still on board, and it was discovered that they had lost engine power and started taking waves over the bow and the stern due to worsening sea conditions. The individuals were out of cell phone range but could utilize their Emergency-Position-Indicating-Radiobeacon (EPIRB) to alert first responders that they were in danger. All seven subjects were rescued and transported to Pete’s Pier without injuries.

“I am thankful for the immediate actions of our Marine Unit and the assistance from FWC and the USCG,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “Without their prompt response, these two incidents may have resulted in much worse outcomes. Please let this serve as a reminder to research weather conditions before heading out on the water, and always have the required safety equipment with you, such as distress signals and life vests.”

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