An extremely lucky man appears to be the only survivor after a small boat capsized 45 miles off the coast of Florida. Officials believe the man had been clinging to the boat for two days before Coast Officials found him.
According to the New York Post, authorities believe the man was traveling with 39 others in what they say was a human smuggling operation. The travelers reportedly traveled from the Bahamas en route to Florida.
Further, the U.S. Coast Guard released a photo of the lone surviving man atop the hull of the 25-boat. He remains unidentified but is being interviewed by U.S. authorities.
While it’s unclear how he was the only person remaining out of 40, a bonefish guide said there were bouts of heavy rain, large swells and wind during the 48 hours that the travelers were heading for the coast.
At the time of his rescue, a tug boat captain spotted the man in the water and was able to pull him aboard his own vessel and await for Coast Guard help.
Local Commander Jo-Ann Burdian said the man is “extremely lucky” to be alive after the ordeal.
“The survivor was not wearing a life jacket and reported that no one else on board was,” Burdian said. “We continue to search for other survivors.”
However, despite their hope, officials found at least one body in the search since discovering the man. Additionally, authorities would not say whether the man who survived was a migrant or the captain of the small vessel. He’s being interviewed by Homeland Security currently.
Coast Guard Updates Capsized Boat Accident
In a post on Twitter, the Southeast Sector of the Coast Guard released a statement about the search.
“#BREAKING@USCG rescue crews are currently searching for 39 people after their boat reportedly capsized on Saturday night approximately 45 miles east of Fort Pierce Inlet. #SAR,” the caption reads.
Surviving a water accident, especially in the Atlantic where it becomes very cold, is a timely issue. The Coast Guard reports that people tend to believe taking off layers of clothing will help you survive, yet this is a misconception. It’s possible that the people traveling in the boat panicked and drowned, especially without life jackets or rafts.
Officials also reported that this isn’t the first time the Coast Guard intercepted migrant boats filled with people fleeing Cuba or Haiti. Oftentimes, they’ll use the Bahamas as a midpoint on the way into the United States. There have been thousands of deaths throughout the years as people attempt to make their way onto the southeastern coast.
The Coast Guard says they’ll offer more information as it unfolds.