a group of people on a boat posing for a picture
Two freedivers from Fort Lauderdale were rescued by members of Coast Guard Station Islamorada on May 16. The two men drifted away from their vessel, leading to a search that lasted roughly an hour. U.S COAST GUARD/Contributed

A Coast Guard Station Islamorada boat crew rescued two men on May 16 after they drifted away from their vessel while diving near Tennessee Reef.

Coast Guard Sector Key West watchstanders received notification via 911 call at 5 p.m., reporting two divers, visiting from Fort Lauderdale, going into the water and not resurfacing for more than an hour.

Sector Key West watchstanders launched Coast Guard Station Islamorada boat crews and an Air Station Miami MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew to assist in the search.

The Station Islamorada boat crews arrived on scene and began searches. At about 6 p.m. both divers were located safe and transferred back to their vessel. The Coast Guard said no injuries were reported.

“It was a collective effort from everyone to save the divers,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Ecron Gordon, a Coast Guard Station Islamorada boat crew member. “The divers were relieved to see us and were ready to get out of the water. I recommend divers always have an experienced person waiting on the boat and to pay attention to where you are at all times.”

The Coast Guard suggests the following practices to help increase recreational scuba diver safety:

  • Carry an emergency transmitter in the event you get separated or experience distress.
  • Plan the dive, ensure you have the appropriate gear, and conduct a safety check on the diving equipment.
  • At depth, follow dive table parameters to prevent decompression sickness and air embolisms.
  • Seek medical advice on your health concerns or medications taken prior to diving.
  • Do not consume alcohol or drugs before diving.
  • Always dive with a buddy, qualified instructor or experienced guide.

If you are in distress on the water or observe someone else needing help off the Florida Keys, contact Coast Guard Sector Key West via Marine Radio VHF Channel 16 or by phone at 305- 292-8727.