A 22-year-old who was lost at sea for two hours Thursday after the Gulf Stream pulled him further from the coast of Key West, Florida is safe after being rescued by his family, the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed.
Dylan Gartenmayer was drift diving with friends when the current separated from the group, according to a video he posted to social media.
“The current ended up taking me faster and faster from them, and it got to the point where the boat just disappeared,” Gartenmayer said. “At that point, I realized things were starting to get serious.”
The sun started to set. Gartenmayer said he saw sea turtles and reef sharks within the 10 feet of visibility he could manage. He was cold, and started to shiver.
Eventually, he found a piece of bamboo to cling onto. He swam, and eventually tied two white mooring balls to himself to keep him afloat.
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He saw a Coast Guard helicopter was sweeping the area in the distance, but his family, who set out to search for him on their boat, spotted him first.
“They [Coast Guard] would’ve came and found me eventually, but by some miracle my parents and everyone else on board my grandfather’s boat had ended up driving and basically landed right on top of me,” Gartenmayer said.
The Coast Guard said it conducted a search with via land and sea prior to Gartenmayer’s rescue, which family members captured the on camera.
Gartenmayer was reported missing at 4:19 p.m., according to Coast Guard spokesperson Eric Rodriguez, and was rescued seven miles southeast of Key West two hours later.
He sustained no major injuries.
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“Too often missing diver cases don’t have positive outcomes, and the circumstances of this case didn’t forecast for one,” Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Elizabeth Tatum said in a statement to USA TODAY. “Sunset, weather conditions and Dylan’s outfit were playing against us in this case, but his foresight to lash mooring balls together to make him a bigger target in the water was smart.”