The Coast Guard rescued a group of people whose boat capsized. Chief Warrant Officer James Mullinax says it happened 17 miles east of the Riviera Beach coastline. The Coast Guard cutter named "Knight Island" warned the group that they didn't have their navigation lights on at about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. The Coast Guard says the boat accelerated and tried to evade authorities.
At about 4 a.m., the 25-foot-vessel overturned. Mullinax says the 12 people on board started out with the odds stacked against them. He says, "Trying to cross the straits of Florida in an overloaded vessel. It just ends in tragedy all too often".
Mullinax says the Coast Guard was able to rescue ten people after "... the vessel quickly capsized." People spilled overboard. An eleventh person was also pulled and had to be taken to the hospital. Divers from the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Dept. recovered the twelfth person's body four hours later. The victim was a woman. Her body was found underneath the boat.
Mullinax says, "They [rescued people] are just claiming to be Jamaicans. We believe this is an illegal migrant case".
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is now investigating if the passengers are indeed from Jamaica and if they were smuggled. There's no decision yet on whether or not the people rescued will be sent back to their home country.
The woman at the hospital is in critical condition. The other survivors were given food and medical attention.