Florida Keys

He was stranded on a deserted island. She was adrift at sea. A dropped phone started it all

A couple’s adventure in the Keys sounds like it could be a new reality series.

He was stranded overnight on an uninhabited island. She was missing for 24 hours as she drifted at sea in a broken-down boat.

The saga for the Florida Keys husband and wife started Sunday evening after the couple went to one of the Molasses Keys, a small group of islands in the Gulf of Mexico. They’re about a quarter-mile from the Seven Mile Bridge and five miles west of the Middle Keys city of Marathon.

Edmund James and Kendra Felling were taking pictures of their dog around 5:30 p.m. Sunday when she dropped her phone in the water, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

Unable to find the phone, Felling, 38, left the island in the couple’s 22-foot boat around 7 p.m. to go back to their Marathon home to get a flashlight and batteries.

Her 64-year-old husband stayed on the island with the dog. Felling had James’ cellphone on the boat.

Hours passed — and Felling never returned.

At 11 a.m. Monday, James flagged down a passing boat, and the crew from that vessel called the U.S. Coast Guard, who rescued him, said Monroe sheriff’s office spokesman Adam Linhardt.

“James stated he had no food or water, but he and the dog drank water from the plants to stay hydrated,” Linhardt said.

With James rescued, Felling was still missing. The Coast Guard, sheriff’s office and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission searched for her on land at at sea.

At 4:30 p.m., the FWC reported that officers had found her on the boat, which had broken down, drifting off Big Pine Key in the Lower Keys.

Wildlife officers took her to the Coast Guard’s station in Marathon, where she and James were reunited, Linhardt said.

Neither Felling nor James had serious injuries, Linhardt said.

Molasses Key.jpg
A Marathon, Florida, man was stranded on an uninhabited island in the Florida Keys Sunday night, Oct. 13, 2019. Google

David Goodhue covers the Florida Keys and South Florida for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald. Before joining the Herald, he covered Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.