One dead, seven rescued in Florida after boat capsizes

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 10, 2011 9:53 AM

MIAMI (Reuters) - An 80-year-old woman was missing and feared drowned and seven other people were rescued after their pleasure boat capsized and sank in bad weather over the weekend in the Florida Keys, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Monday.

Those rescued, four of whom spent 20 hours treading water, included a 4-year-old girl who clung to a cooler box, Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Second Class Nick Ameen told Reuters in Miami.

The group's small pleasure craft capsized off Marathon in the Middle Keys on Saturday afternoon in choppy seas and driving rain, spilling the eight occupants into the water.

"The weather was awful," Ameen said.

The Coast Guard quoted the survivors as saying that an 80-year-old woman in the group slipped under the water and did not resurface. It was not clear if all of the occupants were wearing life jackets.

"They had a cooler that the 4-year-old girl was clinging to," Ameen said.

He said the survivors drifted apart in the water after the capsize. Three were found and picked up by a "Good Samaritan" in another boat who alerted the Marathon Coast Guard Station.

The station's rescue vessel located the other four, including the 4-year-old girl, on Sunday morning.

Over the 20 hours, they had drifted some four miles from the scene of the capsize.

Ameen said the incident showed how important it was for boaters to carry an emergency beacon or VHS radio so they could be located in the case of an accident or mishap.

(Reporting by Pascal Fletcher, Editing by Greg McCune)