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3 rescued as boat sinks in gulf

Three men were rescued from a sinking 42-foot fishing boat west of Crystal River on Saturday after they frantically called the Coast Guard for help.

Coast Guard Group St. Petersburg got the urgent call at 6:35 a.m.

"This guy came on just screaming, "Mayday! We're going down!' " Coast Guard spokesman Harry Craft said. "And then about two seconds later, he goes, "We're sunk!' "

When a Coast Guard air crew found them 45 miles out in the gulf, the boaters were clinging to the top of the pilot house, the highest point on the boat. The rescue team dropped a basket to the men, then hoisted them to safety.

The boaters, identified as Joe Brown, Kim Taylor and Kevin McKeown of the Crystal River area, were not injured.

"They were just wet and cold, but other than that, they were in good shape," Craft said.

The Coast Guard's HC-130 aircraft "almost immediately" determined the boat's location, thanks to the sinking vessel's emergency beacon.

"That's basically what saved these guys today," Craft said.

He did not know why the boat, based in Homosassa, sank.