MIAMI, FL (WFOR) — The U.S. Coast Guard rescued two men and woman who were stranded on a deserted Bahamian island for more than a month on Tuesday. The Cuban nationals survived by eating coconuts, conchs and rats.
The trio was spotted on Monday by a Coast Guard crew on routine patrol between the lower Keys and Cuba. They were waving flags on Anguilla Cay.
While the crew initially thought it was nothing, as they got closer, they saw the castaways were in distress.
“The thing that caught my attention was a small flag waving in the wind. Upon getting closer to that flag, I saw right on top of it, there were two people waving their arms trying to get our attention,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Riley Beecher.
The Coast Guard crew, out of Air Station Miami went into rescue mode, dropping food, water and a radio down to the Cuban castaways. The three said they had been on the island for 33 days surviving on coconuts, rats and conch, desperate for rescue to arrive.
“We were fluent enough in our group to have two fluent Spanish speakers so once we got overhead, we were able to talk to them on the radio that Riley dropped them and were able to get more information on their medical state, what their emergency was, and how we could best help them out,” explained Justin Dougherty of the US Coast Guard.
While the team regularly practices dropping off supplies to ships on missions, they said this drop, was one of their most difficult.
“We do practice this quite a bit so, that’s a unique thing about our aircraft. We do drop to boats pretty often, but what was unusual about this case was that instead of dropping to a boat, we dropped to people on land which is not something we would practice all that often,” said Dougherty.
A helicopter picked them up and flew them to the Lower Keys Medical Center. Miraculously, all three are alive and well.
“We’re so fortunate to be in this position where we can help people, we’ve received some great training, I had a great crew with me, so I’m just happy that everything lined up as great as it did and we were able to help someone out. It’s really an incredible feeling,” said Dougherty.
The castaways told the Coast Guard helicopter crew their boat had capsized in rough waters nearly five weeks earlier, and swam to the deserted island.
It was unclear if they were trying to make it to the U.S. or if they were fishermen who got lost at sea.
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