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2 boats with 7 people capsize in gulf; 3 clung to boat for 12 hours

ST. PETERSBURG — Seven people were plucked from local waters Saturday morning after their boats ran into trouble.

In the first incident, three people, including a Gulfport man, clung to the side of their capsized boat for 12 hours until another boater rescued them about 8 a.m. Saturday 7 miles west of Egmont Key. They were not injured.

In the second, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter rescued four men after a boat took on water 23 miles west of John's Pass. They were also not injured.

In that case, the rescuers were able to quickly find the men because one of them had a pocket emergency position indicating radio beacon, or EPIRB, in his life jacket, Coast Guard spokeswoman Mariana O'Leary said.

"I don't know if I'd be talking to these guys if they didn't have that," she said.

The Coast Guard got a distress call at 7:04 a.m. and dispatched an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from its Clearwater air station at 7:41 a.m., she said. It arrived on scene to rescue the four men at 7:51 a.m.

The men were identified as Joseph DiGiovanni, 62, of Seminole; Phillip Bozza, 53, and Sean Bozza, 17, both of New Port Richey; and Bryan Smock, 31.

The helicopter transported the men to the air station, where they were "a little wet and a little tired" but otherwise okay, O'Leary said.

The men were fishing and anchored when they called, she said. It's not clear why their boat, a 25-foot Fountain, began taking on water. It's not clear if it capsized.

It's also not clear why the boat in the incident near Egmont Key capsized.

The boaters in that case included Francis McLaughlin of Gulfport. The Coast Guard had not released the other boaters' names Saturday. They had taken off from O'Neill's Marina near the Sunshine Skyway bridge. They did not have an EPIRB, O'Leary said.

After being rescued by the other boater, the Coast Guard transported them back to the marina.

2 boats with 7 people capsize in gulf; 3 clung to boat for 12 hours 06/26/10 [Last modified: Saturday, June 26, 2010 11:21pm]

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