FORT PIERCE, Fla. — First responders in St. Lucie County helped rescue a couple and their pets Wednesday night after hurricane-force winds lodged their boat under a causeway.
David Snow and his wife were aboard their sailboat Wednesday evening when winds broke the 52-foot vessel free in the Indian River Lagoon, sending it on a collision course with the North Causeway Bridge, according to WPEC.
The boat eventually became stuck underneath the low bridge, breaking the mast and pinning them as storm surges from Hurricane Nicole raised the water levels.
Snow called 911, and several St. Lucie County Fire District units responded to the marine emergency. Strong winds made the initial rescue challenging.
“Upon arrival, rescuers found a sailing vessel with its mast broken off and entangled on the deck. It was wedged beneath the bridge in rising water with two occupants aboard that had been adrift for several hours. Attempts were made to secure the vessel and bring the occupants onto the bridge; however, hurricane force winds battered the rescue operation,” the fire district said in a Facebook post.
Eventually, the boat broke free again and continued out of control.
Firefighters launched a rescue boat from a nearby ramp and caught up with the vessel, which had run aground on a sandbar, according to WPEC.
The couple was rescued from the boat early Thursday morning after the ordeal began.
“Our biggest challenge was is our vessel and their vessel from deck to deck was about a 5-foot difference. We had to basically help to lower her down into ours,” St. Lucie County firefighter Lt. Shane Kozac told WPTV.
The pets required a separate rescue. Gwendolyn, a cat and Lucy, a dog, were removed from the stranded vessel later that morning.
“Our pets are just like our kids, so they’re very special to us,” Snow told WPTV.
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