The crew of the “Weatherbird Two” research vessel from the Florida Institute of Oceanography heard a Coast Guard call about three people stranded in the water. The ordeal started early Saturday near Egmont Key when a woman reported her daughter’s boyfriend jumped in the water and her daughter and her husband went in after him.
While a Coast Guard boat found three of the people, the boyfriend was still lost. “It was very dark, yeah, no moonlight. It was quite, quite dark (and) really hard to see,” Capt. Brandon Baumeister of the Weatherbird Two said. The crew used search lights to scan the Gulf. An hour passed without any lucky. Crew members mistook birds for the victim. “Every minute that went by, it was starting to look grimmer and grimmer. We were talking about how that night could end there,” Baumeister said.
Then, the crew experienced a stroke of genius. The members turned off almost everything on board that made noise. That worked. “(We) heard him yell, heard him yell again, and we were able to actually see him with the spotlight once we heard him,” Al Savore, the ship’s engineer, said.
“After a couple of swipes we both kind of looked and all of the sudden there was a little head and a little arm amongst all these birds, and at that point we knew we found him – and he was alive,” Baumeister said. The victim had no life jacket and was dehydrated. The crew brought him aboard. Reunited on board, the rescued group could not contain its appreciation. “He got up on deck and the first thing he did was collapse on the ground and first thing he did after we were able to assess him, he stood up and first thing he did is give me a big bear hug and wouldn’t let go,” Savore said.