FORT PIERCE, Fla. - Mason Matthews and his scuba dive buddy Nick Allen were missing at sea, miles away from shore, but safe Sunday night thanks to the efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard and the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office.
The two divers were reported missing at around 4:18 p.m. on Saturday, and nearly four hours later, the call came in everyone was hoping to hear.
Rescue crews and family swarmed the U.S. Coast Guard station in Fort Pierce and when the rescued divers got off the boat, their families erupted into cheers and laughter. It was a moment that might not have been possible without the work of those standing behind.
"It is like a needle in a haystack trying to find someone in a black diver suit out there in the waves bobbing up and down," said Brandon Marbrey, of the U.S. Coast Guard.
When rescuers were out searching the waters of South Hutchinson Island, crews said the current was very strong and they were losing vital daylight.
But with the help of a St. Lucie County sheriff's deputy and a pair of night goggles, crews spotted Matthews and Allen still miles away from shore.
"I was excited, everyone was thrilled. I just couldn't hold it back. I was like, 'Hey guys get on the boat,'" said Marbrey.
The rescued dive buddies said when they surfaced and their boat was missing, they found themselves stranded and hoping for a rescue.
The U.S. Coast Guard said it is important to have a few items with you at sea in the event of becoming stranded. In addition to a life vest, carrying a mirror could help catch the eye of a rescuer and having a whistle can help a person be heard from distances away.
U.S. Coast Guard crews said during Saturday's rescue, a great degree of teamwork, technology and luck helped make for a happy ending.
"I will always remember it throughout my career. My first mission, it was a success so it was really exciting," said Fawn Orn, of the U.S. Coast Guard.
The two rescued divers said what happened to them will not deter them from getting back out on the water. Both Matthews and Allen said they are grateful for the search effort and will never forget what happened.
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