There were frightening moments for more than a dozen people after their boat began to sink. Some people on board could not swim.
Naples firefighters rescue teams brought 13 people to shore safely on Sunday, then pulled the boat out of the water on Monday after it sank.
A man from Marco Island had a boat full of friends and family when one of the engines broke. Some people on board had never been on a boat before and could not swim.
The experienced captain didn’t think the waves would swallow his boat, leaving his crew in deep water.
“A lot of people on the boat were a little nervous. They couldn’t swim, ”said Billy Connelly. “I just stayed on the boat and said to everyone, ‘Hold hands. To stay together. to stay together.'”
Connelly won’t be able to save his boat, but he is grateful that he and 12 others survived after a day with friends on the dangerous water.
“The bilge pump is dead; one of the engines died, ”explained Connelly.
Things quickly got worse for the group who were stuck about a mile from Keeywadin Island.
“The waves were actually three to four feet, started coming over the front of the boat, and within two minutes the boat was falling, he got life jackets for everyone,” Connelly said.
Naples firefighters said the boat was completely underwater by the time rescue teams responded to Connelly’s call for help.
“There were several casualties in the water, people in the water,” Lt. William Warren said. “They were kind of hooked on life jackets and coolers”
Everyone was upset, but the owner is looking on the bright side.
“But everyone is fine,” Connelly said. “Thank God.”
Naples firefighters say boaters should always have life jackets on board and a GPS system so you can get help if needed.
“Get yourself a new boat and start a new day tomorrow,” said Connelly.