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Man stranded at sea for 36 hours rescued by Fort Pierce charter boat

Captain Chase Cornell said thinking about what happened Friday morning gives him chills.“For us to cross paths, it was nothing short of a miracle,” he said.Robert Lynch said he thinks about it all the time.“You have to do it. You have to help,” he said. “And that’s just what we were doing.”Cornell and Lynch work aboard the Southern Eagle, a charter boat in Fort Pierce.They left the Pelican Yacht Club with six people on board just before six o’clock Friday morning for a day of fishing.They were only twenty miles offshore when Cornell spotted something on the radar.“I told the guys that maybe we found something to go fishing on,” Cornell said. “They got rods ready downstairs.”A few moments later, Cornell realized what he was seeing wasn’t a fish.“As we got closer, I saw the gentleman raise his hand up and start waving at me,” he said.“Next thing you know, Chase is upstairs saying, ‘It’s a person! Help him! It’s a person!’” said Jack Hendrix, another mate on the Southern Eagle.“And that’s when I knew we weren’t fishing anymore,” Cornell said. “We were actually there to rescue somebody.”Photos show the man perched on the very tip of his submerged boat.“I went up to the bridge, got the life ring and threw it to him,” Lynch said. “And he jumped on it.”“He was wearing a life jacket,” Cornell said. “He was clinging to the boat.”“I’m on the bow talking to him, and I got a little bit of brief information: how long he’d been out there if there were others or not,” Lynch said.The man told them he’d been in the water for about 36 hours, ever since his boat hit rough weather and capsized shortly after they left the Bahamas.He’d floated more than a hundred miles north.He said he’d been with six other people.They had all vanished under the water.“He got to the boat and we pulled him in and started taking care of him,” Lynch said.“He was very, very weak, so we got him a bunch of fluids, food, basically anything we could for him,” Hendrix said.That’s when the crew, including boat owner Peter Busch, realized the man hadn’t just been floating in water, but also gasoline from the boat.“His skin was really burned,” Cornell said. “His clothes were soaked and drenched in gasoline.”So they cleaned him with soap and water and kept him warm until the Coast Guard arrived about 45 minutes later.The Coast Guard transferred the man to their boat as the crew of the Southern Eagle wished him well.“I was just kind of doing my job and was able to be in the right place at the right time,” Cornell said. “I was just thankful to be able to do that.”The crew said they have not spoken to the man since he left their boat but they’ve heard he’s recovering well.They said they hope to see him again, talk to him and maybe even take him fishing.

Captain Chase Cornell said thinking about what happened Friday morning gives him chills.

“For us to cross paths, it was nothing short of a miracle,” he said.

Robert Lynch said he thinks about it all the time.

“You have to do it. You have to help,” he said. “And that’s just what we were doing.”

Cornell and Lynch work aboard the Southern Eagle, a charter boat in Fort Pierce.

They left the Pelican Yacht Club with six people on board just before six o’clock Friday morning for a day of fishing.

They were only twenty miles offshore when Cornell spotted something on the radar.

“I told the guys that maybe we found something to go fishing on,” Cornell said. “They got rods ready downstairs.”

A few moments later, Cornell realized what he was seeing wasn’t a fish.

“As we got closer, I saw the gentleman raise his hand up and start waving at me,” he said.

“Next thing you know, Chase is upstairs saying, ‘It’s a person! Help him! It’s a person!’” said Jack Hendrix, another mate on the Southern Eagle.

“And that’s when I knew we weren’t fishing anymore,” Cornell said. “We were actually there to rescue somebody.”

Photos show the man perched on the very tip of his submerged boat.

“I went up to the bridge, got the life ring and threw it to him,” Lynch said. “And he jumped on it.”

“He was wearing a life jacket,” Cornell said. “He was clinging to the boat.”

“I’m on the bow talking to him, and I got a little bit of brief information: how long he’d been out there if there were others or not,” Lynch said.

The man told them he’d been in the water for about 36 hours, ever since his boat hit rough weather and capsized shortly after they left the Bahamas.

He’d floated more than a hundred miles north.

He said he’d been with six other people.

They had all vanished under the water.

“He got to the boat and we pulled him in and started taking care of him,” Lynch said.

“He was very, very weak, so we got him a bunch of fluids, food, basically anything we could for him,” Hendrix said.

That’s when the crew, including boat owner Peter Busch, realized the man hadn’t just been floating in water, but also gasoline from the boat.

“His skin was really burned,” Cornell said. “His clothes were soaked and drenched in gasoline.”

So they cleaned him with soap and water and kept him warm until the Coast Guard arrived about 45 minutes later.

The Coast Guard transferred the man to their boat as the crew of the Southern Eagle wished him well.

“I was just kind of doing my job and was able to be in the right place at the right time,” Cornell said. “I was just thankful to be able to do that.”

The crew said they have not spoken to the man since he left their boat but they’ve heard he’s recovering well.

They said they hope to see him again, talk to him and maybe even take him fishing.


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