Florida Keys

A man was found beaten with an oar and stranded in the water, police say

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Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

A Florida Keys homeless man was airlifted to a Miami hospital Monday night after police said he was beaten with an oar and then left stranded in the waters off Key West.

Byron Chad Abernathy, 36, was found at about 10:35 p.m. by a U.S. Coast Guard crew clinging to a floating dock and screaming for help in the Cow Key Channel between Key West and Stock Island, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

Police were called to Hurricane Hole Marina, where Abernathy had been brought to shore.

He was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital with cuts to his head, neck and arms. He was treated and released.

Abernathy told police he didn’t want to pursue criminal charges against his attackers.

No arrests had been made as of midday Tuesday.

On Monday night, a deputy went out to a 45-foot catamaran where the incident took place, and found two men, ages 49 and 27, and a 47-year-old woman.

They gave similar accounts of the incident: The 27-year-old had left the boat to get drinks for the group and returned with Abernathy, who was a stranger to the others.

Abernathy was already drunk, and in vulgar terms told the female what he was going to do to her sexually, police said. The trio wanted him to leave but he refused and made threats to all three.

One of the men shoved Abernathy into the channel. As Abernathy tried to get back onto the boat, the woman struck him multiple times with a fiberglass oar.

“The other two men stated Abernathy was large and they feared him getting back on the boat given his size and the threatening statements he was making,” said Adam Linhardt, spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

Abernathy eventually left, said another witness who lives on a different boat, and partially pulled himself up onto a nearby floating dock and began calling for help.

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