(WSVN) - Three people have been rescued by the Coast Guard after being stranded on a deserted island for more than a month.
“They had been there for 33 days,” said Coast Guard Lt. Riley Beecher.
What started as a routine patrol flight on Monday for U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Beecher and his crew out of Air Station Miami quickly turned into a high stakes rescue mission.
“I saw what appeared to be a flag waving, and as we got closer we saw two people come out and waving their hand,” Beecher said.
It turns out three Cuban nationals were stuck on Anguilla Cay, a small island between the Florida Keys and Cuba.
“So when they talked to us, we knew they were in a boat at some point, they ran across a squall or a storm that disabled their vessel,” said Coast Guard Lt. Justin Dougherty.
The two men and one woman were able to swim to shore, where they would spend the next nearly five weeks fighting to survive.
“They were able to eat coconuts to stay hydrated throughout that time. There were small shrubs and trees there, so they could stay out of the elements but still unbelievable they were able to stay there 33 days,” Dougherty said.
The crew dropped supplies out of the back of the plane to the people on the island until another crew in a helicopter could come rescue them.
Video footage shows Beecher’s crew parachuting down water, food and a radio to communicate.
Then, a second plane brought even more supplies until the helicopter from Air Station Clearwater completed the mission on Tuesday.
“It’s a really good feeling to work with your crew and be able to render that assistance. That’s the job we signed up to do,” Beecher said.
Thankfully, no one was injured, but the three people rescued were taken to Lower Keys Medical Center.
Lt. Beecher and Lt. Dougherty are just thankful for how things turned out.
“I just think it’s remarkable that they had the fortitude to survive that long in such an inhospitable place,” Beecher said.
The three Cuban nationals have since been transferred to an ICE facility in Pompano Beach.
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