Manatee couple thanks Good Samaritans who rescued them from burning boat

The Nguyen family was saved when their boat caught fire off Coquina Beach

Mr. and Mrs. Nguyen were rescued from their burning boat.

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Earlier this week, we told you about some Good Samaritans who saved a group of boaters from a dangerous fire off Coquina Beach. Now, the owners of the destroyed boat are speaking out for the first time.

Mr. and Mrs. Nguyen are just happy to be alive. On Sunday afternoon, they had finished a fishing trip and were headed to shore when their engine suddenly exploded.

“We heard a big bomb. We thought we maybe hit a rock on the bottom of the sea or something,” said Mrs. Nguyen.

“Flames started to spread up…there’s no way to escape,” said Mr. Nguyen.

They called for help on the radio and then gathered on the deck. They were unsure if they could swim to shore, and they had a young child with them.

“[Everyone was] scared. But I’m a captain, I had to remain calm,” said Mr. Nguyen.

The Nguyens point out the were other boats nearby that did not come over, and it was taking first responders a long time to arrive. But just in the nick of time, the Whitmer family arrived, navigating their small boat to the fire to rescue them.

“Normally people, once they see an accident they….stay distant. But this family actually came to us to help us. That’s very nice of them,” said Mrs. Nguyen.

The boat was soon destroyed in the fire, but the Whitmers saved their lives, and the Nguyens are eternally grateful.

“God send them to us. It’s a wonderful family,” said Mrs. Nguyen.

“They are just like a guardian angel,” said Mr. Nguyen.

The two families have not reunited since the fire. But hopefully in the next week or so, they will meet so the Nguyens can properly say thank you in person. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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