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Mirror Mirror*

Story by U.S. Coast Guard,
7th District Public Affairs

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Three missing boaters were safely located this afternoon after spending the night drifting in the Gulf of Mexico in their 22-foot boat as Coast Guard rescue boats and aircraft searched for them.

The Coast Guard began searching for Eduardo Garcia, 40, Juan Mortamer, 40, and Yohanny Mortamer, 13, early this morning shortly after receiving notification that the men had run out of fuel while boating seven miles off Hernando Beach Marina.  Rescue boats from Coast Guard Station Sand Key, the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, as well as helicopters and an airplane from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater searched the Gulf of Mexico from Hernando Beach to Anclote Key for more than 12 hours before receiving word that the boaters were found safe off Horseshoe Beach, Fla., 75 miles north of their last known position.

Although the Coast Guard is relieved the men were found safe, several things could have been done to prevent the need for the exhaustive search.  The Coast Guard reminds boaters of the importance of filing an accurate float plan, detailing where they will be boating and when they plan on returning.  In this case, the Coast Guard was searching about 100 miles south of the actual location of the missing boaters.  The search patterns were based on information passed to Garcia's wife over a cell phone at 11:00 p.m. Wednesday.

It is also important for boaters to have a VHF radio on board their vessel.  Again, in this case the missing boaters' only means of communication was a cell phone.  Cell phone coverage is often weak or nonexistent offshore.  If the missing boaters had a VHF radio on board their boat, they could have notified the Coast Guard of their location and distress.

The missing boaters were extremely lucky as they managed to signal a passing vessel with a signal mirror this afternoon.  The Good Samaritans on the passing vessel used their VHF radio to contact a commercial salvage vessel to assist the disabled vessel and the three men.  They were towed into Horseshoe Beach safely this afternoon and the Coast Guard and FWCC rescue boats and aircraft returned to their respective bases.

Safety is simple when you have a plan™
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