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Coast Guard rescues fisherman after vessel capsizes off St. Petersburg

The Jenny Lynn, a 36-foot commercial fishing vessel out of Fort Myers, had been disabled since Monday.

ST. PETERSBURG — A commercial fisherman was rescued Thursday by the Coast Guard after his vessel capsized in the Gulf of Mexico 18 miles west of the city.

The Coast Guard received an emergency alert at 8:56 a.m. from the radio beacon of the Jenny Lynn, a 36-foot commercial fishing out of Fort Myers, broadcasting its location.

A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew was dispatched from Air Station Clearwater to investigate the signal, and discovered the Jenny Lynn had capsized.

Robert Heart, 48, was clinging to a cooler near the sunken vessel in 3 to 4-foot seas and 15 mph winds.

A rescue swimmer dove in to rescue Heart and the helicopter flew him to Tampa General Hospital to undergo a medical evaluation.

The Coast Guard Cutter Diamondback first made contact with the Jenny Lynn on Wednesday when it was sent to help a 15-year-old boy who had fallen ill onboard. The Coast Guard took the boy and his father to the Sector St. Petersburg base.

Heart told coast guardsmen then that the Jenny Lynn was disabled and could no longer operate under its own power, the agency said. He declined help, the Coast Guard said, saying his vessel had been disabled since Monday but that a sister ship was on its way to help.

He said he could safely remain anchored until then, according to the Coast Guard.

Coast Guard officials in St. Petersburg are now investigating what happened to the Jenny Lynn