Coast Guard rescues and detains man off Belleair Beach, Florida

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Coast Guard rescued and detained an unconscious man, Wednesday, west of Belleair Beach, Fla.

Watchstanders at U.S. Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a call from a Good Samaritan boater at approximately 12:05 p.m., Wednesday, reporting he had found an unconscious, and apparently intoxicated man wearing a life jacket and floating atop a small pool-type raft, approximately one mile off Belleair Beach, Fla.

Sector search and rescue coordinators directed the launch of a Coast Guard Station Sand Key 25-foot Response Boat-Small (RB-S) crew, which arrived on scene along with a Clearwater Fire and Rescue boatcrew at approximately 12:20 p.m.

The RB-S boatcrew detained Jerry Whipple, residence unknown, and transported him safely to Coast Guard Station Sand Key, where he was transferred to awaiting EMS.

The Coast Guard reminds boaters to exercise good judgement as they head out onto the water, and urges beach-goers and boaters alike to consider the following five potentially life saving tips.

Always wear a lifejacket. Approximately 90 percent of people who drowned in boating accidents were not wearing a lifejacket.

Never drink and boat. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.

Ensure you have a VHF radio onboard. Cellular phones often prove to have limited range and limited reliability in a maritime environment. A distress call on a VHF radio can also alert other boaters in the area that you are having trouble.

Get a vessel safety inspection. Even if you pay careful attention to safety, dangerous mechanical problems can happen on even the best-maintained boats. The Coast Guard recommends all recreational boaters take advantage of the free vessel safety check program every year.

File a float plan. A float plan is simply letting a reliable loved one or friend know where you are going, when you are going to be back and what kind of vessel you have. That person can call the Coast Guard if you don’t return on time and save critical minutes during a search.

Boaters should remember they are in command, and they may save more than their own life by taking safety precautions on the water, they may also save the life of someone they love. For more information please visit

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