Stranded boaters rescued after drifting under Skyway Bridge
Two people were rescued by Hillsborough County deputies after their boat started taking on water near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on Sunday.
According to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the agency’s marine was called to investigate a report of a boat in distress at 4 a.m.
After scouring the darkness for the vessel, deputies followed a flashing light in the distance, and found the boat adrift with two people on board. The passengers – one man and one woman -reported experiencing mechanical problems before the boat started taking on water.
“It really was a nightmare today out there,” the female passenger said, according to HCSO body camera video.
The boat had been broken down for hours by the time HCSO arrived, they said. The boat continued to drift, despite putting down an anchor.
“Next thing you know, we were under the bridge. We kept hearing cars,” the male passenger said. “And I was like, ‘Oh man, we’re in trouble’.”
The boaters said the choppy water made them seasick, but they had no choice but to wait it out.
“I didn’t think it would be this rough,” the male passenger said. “It was supposed to be a calm night, but it wasn’t.”
The boaters made it to shore safely, HCSO said. They were not hurt in the incident.
“I am thankful for the quick action and use of their expert training that our deputies were able to locate these individuals and bring them to safety,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “Their dedication and professionalism remain resolute, even in the most challenging of circumstances, embodying the core values of our sheriff’s office. We take immense pride in their heroic endeavors, which reinforce our commitment to protecting and serving our community.”