Coast Guard first finds his empty boat, then finally finds man in Florida Keys waters

U.S. Coast Guard crews rescued a diver early Friday who was drifting in the waters of the Florida Keys for 10 hours after losing his boat.

The 50-year-old man was found near the American Shoal Light off the Saddlebunch Keys.

Coast Guard Station Key West and Air Station Miami searched for the diver by boat and by helicopter.

The helicopter crew found his empty 20-foot boat anchored near the American Shoal Light and at about 12:30 a.m. Friday, they spotted the diver in the water about three miles north of the boat, the Coast Guard said.

He was brought to Sector Key West for a medical evaluation, the Coast Guard said, and “reported to be cold.”

“The man was wearing a strobe light, which allowed our aircrews to find him,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul Altieri of Sector Key West. “We’d like to remind divers to always dive with a buddy and ensure the dive flag is posted.”

The man said he surfaced from a dive and couldn’t find his boat.

His wife called Sector Key West at about 10 p.m. Thursday, saying he had left Cudjoe Key for the American Shoal Light to dive, but hadn’t returned home.

During the search, the man’s wife was able to give the Coast Guard a more accurate position by tracking her husband’s phone.

This was the second Coast Guard rescue in two days in the Keys.

On Thursday morning, a Coast Guard crew rescued two men after their boat broke down about 20 miles off Dry Tortugas National Park.

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