Coast Guard Sector Key West units rescue 11, assist 16 within 1 hour Saturday

KEY WEST, Fla. — Coast Guard search and rescue coordinators at Sector Key West were busy Saturday after receiving five separate distress calls within one hour resulting in 11 lives saved and 16 others assisted throughout the middle keys.

Calls started coming in shortly after 2:30 p.m. and included two disoriented boats, two disabled boats and one 23-foot sailing vessel that capsized sending its 11 passengers in the water.

Coast Guard Station Marathon, Fla., responded with multiple rescue boats throughout the string of calls. A rescue boat from Coast Guard Station Islamorada, Fla., was also called upon for one of the cases.

Good Samaritans in the area also helped recover people out of the water, towed vessels back to land, or assisted in other ways.

A line of quick moving thunderstorms Saturday afternoon caused or contributed to the distress calls. Afternoon thunderstorms are typical this time of year and the Coast Guard urges the boating public to monitor the weather closely before they head out on their boats, especially during the upcoming lobster mini-season.

The Coast Guard, is anticipating a busy lobster mini-season and would like to remind all boaters to be safe, wear their life jackets, and have all the boating safety items required for their boat. In addition to being safe on the water the Coast Guard recommends that divers review and learn some dive safety principals that can be found at the Florida Keys Safe Diving Initiative’s website, www.divealive.org.

The Coast Guard in the Florida Keys is partnering up with state and local agencies to include Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as well as Monroe County Sheriffs Office to ensure everyone follows the applicable rules and regulations for the 2009 mini-season. For copies of the rules and regulations contact FWC or go to http://www.myfwc.com/.

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