MIAMI (WSVN) - Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and U.S Coast Guard boats arrived to the scene of a grounded vessel filled with a large number of migrants on the Florida Keys.
7Skyforce hovered over the scene near Boca Chita, just before noon, Thursday.
Customs and Border Patrol are investigating the reported incident.
According to the U.S Coast Guard, there were about 100 or more migrants on board the vessel.
The Coast Guard said the vessel was stuck in the sand.
“There was every bit of 100 people on it. To me, they were all standing out on the deck,” said fisherman Car Ball.
It was an all-hands-on-deck situation after MDFR crews and all local partners responded to the scene.
The Coast Guard also provided life jackets to the migrants on board to make sure they were safe. The migrants were transferred from the sailboat to a Coast Guard cutter.
“Lots of Cuban rafts I’ve seen coming before, but nothing of that magnitude,” said Ball.
Ball was out on the water as rescue boats arrived.
“I’m sure that they were pretty hot in and out in the sun. You know, it’s an old boat,” said Ball. “It was, you know, probably an old handmade boat, because you know, I’ve seen the Haitian boats before that have drafted in, and they’re pretty rugged. There’s no air conditioning, no generator, so it’s kind of rough.”
Initially, two women and a child were airlifted to the hospital.
One person on board was being medically evaluated and was put on a stretcher and taken to a Coast Guard boat. MDFR dispatched air rescue and the person was transported to a nearby hospital.
The condition of that person is not known.
“You know, I just hope they all do good, and it’s too bad that they were that desperate that they actually feel that they need to get on a boat like that with that many people,” said Ball.
The U.S. Coast Guard Southeast tweeted out a statement on the vessel carrying the large number of migrants:
“It’s kind of sad to see that they are actually that desperate that they make that trek and risk their lives with women and kids and to get all the way here and then, you know, it’s kind of sad to see that they are just going to get turned back and sent back home,” said Ball.
Earlier in the year, 350 Haitian migrants were spotted off Key Largo.
As for the migrants who were intercepted on Thursday, everyone was off the old sailboat by around 4:30 p.m.
Coast Guard officials said these migrants will be repatriated. Their point of origin remains unclear.
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