Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Storm capsized boat, left families stranded around Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG ­— The waves kicked up high and quick Sunday, sloshing over the side of the boat Brittany Whitten had taken into Tampa Bay for her first fishing trip. Some of the boat's six passengers fought the water with 5-gallon buckets, but it came up too quickly, capsizing their vessel near Weedon Island.

"There was just so much water inside the front of the boat, it just made it sink," Whitten, 23, of Lakeland said. "It was just too heavy."

Whitten and her boyfriend, Jared Lyons, along with Lyons' mother, brother and two family friends, clung to the side of the boat. Their life vests were locked in a submerged part of the vessel. They had seen the storm approaching and made for land, but ran out of time, Lyons said.

One friend, a former lifeguard, took off for help almost as soon as they hit the water. Lyons and Whitten started swimming for help about 30 minutes later. They were picked up by boaters, and rescuers pulled the rest of their group up as well. No one was seriously hurt.

The incident was one of several boating mishaps during stormy weather Sunday.

"This bay can be very deceiving," Tampa Fire Rescue District Chief Troy Basham said. "People think that because it's a small bay, it can't be life threatening, but we've lost a lot of people in the 30 years that I've been here."

Basham said the capsized boat was one of three calls Tampa Fire Rescue received in the span of an hour Sunday. Another boat lost power and was pushed onto the Gandy Causeway. A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission boat was stranded trying to rescue that vessel, Basham said.

Bay News 9 Meteorologist Mike Clay said Monday that he expects similar weather conditions all week.

Basham said boaters should do as much as possible to track weather in real time while on the water. If they're caught off guard by a storm, putting on a life jacket and making for safe harbor are key, Basham said.

Another dramatic rescue happened Sunday night when a family of seven was stranded just off Fort De Soto.

"Yesterday was pretty hairy," park supervisor Jim Wilson said Monday.

When the family radioed in that their 31-foot craft was about to run aground, Wilson took his truck to the beach. The vessel came to rest on a sandbar, and Wilson headed for the water.

"They were just very lucky because where they beached themselves, the land was between them and the water," Wilson said.

Wilson swam out to bring the family in, and no one was seriously injured.

It took just a few minutes, but Wilson said it passed slowly.

"It seemed like forever at the time, because the wind was blowing about 50 miles per hour, and sideways rain," Wilson said.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

Claire Wiseman can be reached at (727)-893-8804 or cwiseman@tampabay.com. On Twitter: @clairelwiseman.

Storm capsized boat, left families stranded around Tampa Bay 09/16/13 [Last modified: Monday, September 16, 2013 10:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Support for gay marriage surges, even among groups once wary

    Nation

    NEW YORK — In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey.

    People gather in Washington's Lafayette Park to see the White House lit up in rainbow colors on June 26, 2015, the day the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage legal. In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey released on Monday, June 26, 2017. [Associated Press]
  2. June 26 marks the 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter series.
  3. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy

    Autos

    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  4. Philando Castile family reaches $3 million settlement in death

    Crime

    MINNEAPOLIS — The mother of Philando Castile, a black motorist killed by a Minnesota police officer last year, has reached a nearly $3 million settlement in his death, according to an announcement Monday by her attorneys and the Minneapolis suburb that employed the officer.

    A handout dashboard camera image of Officer Jeronimo Yanez firing at Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn., July 6, 2016. [Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension via The New York Times]
  5. From the food editor: Almond-Crusted Chicken Tenders

    Cooking

    I decided my almond chicken obsession was becoming a bit much.

    Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.