Coast Guard suspends search off Florida Keys

united states coast guard 

News Release  

U.S. Coast Guard 7th District Southeast
Contact: 7th District Public Affairs
Office: 305-415-6683
After Hours: 305-202-3735
7th District online newsroom

Coast Guard suspends search off Florida Keys

Coast Guard Cutter Pablo Valent's small boat rescue crew saves people in the water 50 miles off Little Torch Key, Florida, Nov. 19, 2022. The people were wearing lifejackets, which saved their lives. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Coast Guard Pablo Valent's crew) Coast Guard Cutter Pablo Valent's crew rescues a person in the water 50 miles off Little Torch Key, Florida, Nov. 19, 2022. The person reported his vessel capsizing and didn't have safety equipment. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Cutter Pablo Valent's crew)

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MIAMI — The Coast Guard suspended the search for the Cubans in the water about 50 miles off Little Torch Key, Monday, pending new information.

A good Samaritan alerted Coast Guard Sector Key West watchstanders, Saturday, at approximately 9:30 a.m., that they rescued a person in the water. 

The person reported leaving Playa de Jaimanitas, Cuba on Nov. 13 with a large group of people and the vessel capsized, leaving him the only survivor. He was picked up by another group of 18 Cubans, some of whom were wearing life jackets. That vessel capsized also. 

Coast Guard Cutter Pablo Valent's crew rescued nine people and recovered one body. On Sunday and Monday, the crews recovered five bodies. 

Survivors reported seeing four people immediately drown. 

One survivor was brought to shore for further evaluation by emergency medical services. 

The bodies were transferred to the medical examiners office.

"Very rarely do we see people on these illegal voyages wear safety equipment," said Cmdr. Richard Armstrong, deputy sector commander, Sector Key West. "And that certainly saved their lives in treacherous sea conditions. Our condolences go out to the family and friends of those who are presumed lost at sea."

The reported weather on scene was 6-8 foot seas and 30 mph winds. 

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