Coast Guard rescues 3 Fort Meyers fishermen from Sanibel Island

7th Coast Guard District NewsST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Coast Guard rescued three people near Sanibel Island, Wednesday.

Rescued were three male Fort Myers residents: Joseph Falduto, a 70-year-old, Bill Tidmore, a 68-year-old, and Chuck Schmitt, a 68-year-old.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg were notified at 6 p.m. Wednesday, by the wives of two of the missing men. The wives reported the men departed from Falduto’s private residence in Catalpa Cove at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River at 7:30 a.m. en-route to a fishing spot approximately 20 miles west of Sanibel Island near the A.R.C. Barge Reef. The fishermen were due back by 3 p.m.

Watchstanders issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast to all mariners in the area, launched a Coast Guard rescue boat crew from Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach and diverted an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater to assist in the search. Lee County Sheriff’s Office also launched a marine unit and helicopter to assist in the search.

While en-route to the offshore reef location, Coast Guard rescue crews observed one red flare. They immediately proceeded to the position where the flare was shot from, approximately 14 miles west of Sanibel Island, and located the overdue fishermen at approximatly 10:30 p.m.

The fishermen reported their vessel lost all electronics and propulsion due to a lighting strike.

The Coast Guard rescue boat crew transferred the fishermen aboard, took their vessel in tow, and proceeded toward Fort Myers where the Coast Guard transferred the disabled vessel to Towboat U.S. to continue inbound.

“This case illustrates the importance of having the proper safety equipment aboard any vessel,” said Lt. Benjamin Weber, command duty officer at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “The use of the red flare expedited the recovery of these three mariners and prevented the situation from worsening.”

There were no injuries reported.

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