MIAMI — At least four people are dead and six others reported missing after a busy Memorial Day weekend along Florida and Puerto Rico coasts.
The Coast Guard responded to 55 search-and-rescue cases over the weekend resulting in 13 lives saved. Confirmed deaths were reported in the following locations:
- May 24, a 40-year-old male went overboard from a 20-foot vessel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His body was later recovered by Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue. Later in the day, off the coast of Punta Palo Seco, Puerto Rico, a male body was discovered in the water and later pronounced dead.
- May 25, an adult male was reported missing in Volusia County, Florida. His body was later recovered by Volusia County Beach Safety officers.
- May 26, a body matching the description of a 27-year-old female who was reported missing off a 29-foot vessel in Matheson Hammock Park, Florida, was recovered. Identification is pending and the case is under investigation.
“We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who were lost this past weekend,” said Lt. Cmdr. Gabe Somma, Coast Guard 7th District public affairs officer.
With the unofficial kick off to summer, the Coast Guard wants to remind boaters to always wear a lifejacket. The number one cause of boating fatalities is drowning, most often by sudden, unexpected entry into the water. Wearing a lifejacket increases the chances of surviving a boating accident. It is recommended that you have a life jacket, or personal floatation device, for every person aboard. The Coast Guard recommends boaters wear lifejackets at all times.
Never boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drugs affect judgment, vision, balance and coordination. Alcohol, combined with boat motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray accelerate an operator’s impairment. Intoxicated boaters can face both federal and state charges with penalties of up to one year in prison and fines.
File a float plan and leave it with someone at home. A float plan gives a description of your vessel, says where you are going and when you plan on returning, which helps emergency responders locate distressed mariners.
The Coast Guard encourages mariners to have a reliable means of signaling rescuers onboard their vessels in case of emergency. Recommended devices include VHF-FM marine band radios, emergency position indicating radio beacons and signal flares. Addidtionally, the Coast Guard recently released the official Coast Guard mobile aplication, now available for free download on Android and Ios devices this past weekend. The application is an extra resource available to recreational and professional boaters alike to guide and potentially provide assistance to the maritime community.
To learn more about the Coast Guard boating safety app, click here.