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Men stranded in shark-infested waters after Dunedin rental boat sank, suit claims

DUNEDIN — Two men are claiming negligence after their rental boat sank off the Dunedin coast in what they describe as shark-infested waters, according to a recent court filing.

According to the suit filed July 27, Nicholas Dudas-Szabo, 26, and Mohammed Sameni, 27, say the boat they rented from Pirate's Cove Boat Club in Dunedin did not have a flare or radio when it began taking on water six miles off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sameni, a member of the club, rented the 2017 18-foot Glasstream boat on Aug. 8, 2017, according to the suit. He and Dudas-Szabo traveled to fish at Dunedin Reef, where they chummed the water by spreading out raw, bloody fish parts.

After about two hours of fishing, Dudas-Szabo and Sameni realized that the bilge pump was not working, and that the boat began taking on water and was beginning to sink.

They looked for a radio to contact help but could not locate one, the suit claims. They then tried to use flares to signal their position, but they were past their expiration date and did not work.

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The two had called 911, and a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office marine crew found them floating about 50 yards from where the boat sank, according to the Sheriff's Office. They were not injured when they were taken to Dunedin Marina, and the cause of the boat sinking was under investigation.

In the suit, they claim the boat sank, leaving them stranded in water, and the chum had attracted sharks and barracuda. They say they were in fear for their lives and exposed to the elements.

They also claim Pirate's Cove failed to ensure the boat's bilge pump was working, did not provide a radio or working flares and failed to instruct Dudas-Szabo or Sameni on how to safely operate the vessel.

Sameni also claims that Pirate's Cove broke its membership contract with him when the club failed to provide a radio.

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The lawsuit, filed on July 27, seeks damages of more than $15,000 for negligent infliction of emotional distress and violation of Florida's livery statute. It also demands that the case be taken to a jury trial.

Dudas-Szabo and Sameni declined to elaborate on the suit, and officials at Pirate's Cove Boat Club did not return calls for comment.