Florida Keys

A boat takes on water, a man passes out, and his mate can’t call for help

Key West police came to the rescue Wednesday off Smathers Beach when a boater fell unconscious from inhaling engine fumes.
Key West police came to the rescue Wednesday off Smathers Beach when a boater fell unconscious from inhaling engine fumes. Key West Police

A husband and wife were plucked from a 41-foot boat by Key West police after the husband fell unconscious from inhaling fumes in the engine room.

The boat later took on water and partially sank, bobbing in Hawk Channel, about two miles from shore.

“The woman on board did not know how to use a VHF and her cellphone had sporadic service,” Police Chief Donie Lee said. “They were able to ascertain she was somewhere off the coast of Key West as she was describing a tower and radar dome.”

Police on Wednesday found the vessel, Mischief Maker, in distress, adrift and pitching in 2-to-4-foot seas.

Edward Waters, of Moneta, Virginia., was in the lower cabin, not breathing and without a pulse, showing signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and hypoxia, Lee said.

Officers immediately moved him to a higher deck and administered fresh oxygen from the cylinder they carry for dive emergencies. Waters immediately began to regain color and breathe again, Lee said.

On Friday, Key West police posted on Facebook a photo of Waters and Sonja Hefner posing with police officers after they stopped by the department to thank officers.

Police said the boat was sinking from a unidentified hole in the engine room. Due to the amount of water already in the vessel and the carbon monoxide danger, Lee said it was not safe to inspect the water’s entry point or try to stop the flooding. The vessel sank a short time later.

The owners have contacted a salvage company, Coast Guard spokesman Jonathan Lally said.

The Coast Guard was called about the passed-out boater and arrived within 15 minutes, after Key West police were already on the scene and had removed the couple from the boat, Lally said.

According to Coast Guard vessel registration, the boat’s previous name was Life Extension.

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