by Amber Nolan
Three Cuban migrants who were clinging to a make-shift flotation device were rescued Saturday afternoon by a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Captain who happened to be out on his boat with friends – more than 40 miles off the coast of the Lower Keys. It is believed that the men were adrift for more than four or five days before being rescued.
The men were spotted by Sheriff’s Office Middle Keys Capt. Don Hiller, who had taken his 31-foot center console boat to the Dry Tortugas with friends to do some sightseeing and spearfishing afterwards on the return trip.
On the way back, he spotted a dot on the horizon and decided to check it out, his friend following in another boat.
“They were in bad shape, medically,” Capt. Hiller said. “They were dehydrated and had severe sun exposure. One man was semi-conscious. He was in very bad shape. One guy laid down on the deck and just started sobbing. With storms rolling in, our main goal was get them to shore quickly.”
Capt. Hiller a took the men aboard and headed directly back to shore where paramedics were waiting. The men were then taken to the Lower Keys Medical Center on Stock Island.
Two of the three men had been released from the hospital as of Monday. The condition of the third man who remained there Monday was not immediately clear.