5 Men Rescued After Boat Sinks Miles From Hillsboro Inlet
BROWARD COUNTY, FL – Boca Post (BocaPost.com) — BSO’s Marine Unit rescued 5 men after their boat several miles from the Hillsboro Inlet.
According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the emergency rescue occurred around 10 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 7, approximately three miles east of the Hillsboro Inlet. BSO’s Marine Patrol Unit deputies responded to the area after receiving a distress call from the boat operator via VHF (Very High Frequency) radio. During the transmission, the boater stated the vessel was taking on water and that the boat was a few miles offshore near the Hillsboro Inlet. The information was broadcast to multiple entities, which joined the search.
With only a vague idea of the boater’s location and a direr urgency to find them in time, Marine Patrol Unit deputies Daniel Rocha and Jay Dunning headed in that direction while attempting to make contact with the boater via radio.
As they were en route, dispatch notified the two-person unit of a 911 hang-up the call center received from a boater in distress. The call notes contained the latitude and longitude coordinates, which Deputy Rocha converted to degree and decimal minutes using a GPS coordinates converter app. The new information indicated that the stranded boaters were further out than expected.
Deputies Rocha and Dunning immediately changed course and headed toward the GPS location pinpointed on the map. Once in the area, they spotted smoke coming from a handheld flare and knew they were close. An orange life raft then appeared in the distance with three individuals inside and two others outside of the flat floating structure holding on for dear life. The 2002 30-foot Rampage vessel they were on had fully submerged.
Acting swiftly, the Marine Patrol Unit deputies notified the United States Coast Guard and made contact with the five men. The stranded boaters were pulled onto the Marine Patrol Unit boat one by one and provided with life jackets and water. The deputies also checked to see if any of the men required medical attention. Pompano Beach Fire Rescue was dispatched to the dock but later canceled at the request of the rescued boaters.
Onboard, the rescued men expressed their gratitude to the deputies. They said they did not think they were going to make it if the deputies had not found them when they did. One of the individuals even hugged the deputies after the group arrived on shore to demonstrate his appreciation.
Deputies Rocha and Dunning attribute the successful sea rescue to the coordinates obtained from the 911 call made by the boat operator. The GPS conversion identified the stranded boater’s exact location, which allowed the Marine Patrol Unit to safely locate the men in what they described as “a needle in a haystack.” The Marine Patrol Unit deputies also noted that having a VHF radio, a life raft, a flare, and life jackets onboard a vessel is crucial in an emergency. The items can mean the difference between life and death.