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Stuart officers rescue couple who fell overboard, police say

Posted at 3:01 PM, Dec 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-11 04:41:40-05

Two Stuart Police officers helped rescue a man and his wife who fell off their boat Monday morning.

Police say the couple was treading water for at least 45 minutes before they were pulled out of the water by Officers Joe Hogan and Billy Martin.

Hogan and Martin said the husband and wife were exhausted and freezing, and still, at least 100 yards from the shore when they were rescued.

Hogan said someone who lives on the water saw them struggling and their boat running in circles. That person called police.

Within about three minutes of leaving the marina, police located the couple in the water.

“You couldn’t see them really until you got close enough to them,” Hogan said. They were not wearing life jackets, making them harder to see.

In body camera video, Officer Martin is seen throwing them a rope and helping them get onto the back of the police marine unit.

“He was definitely in better shape than she was,” Hogan said. “She was really exhausted. I don’t know if she had hypothermia or not. She was shaking and she was very upset. Very cold.”

The officers said the couple lives on a sailboat. They were taking a smaller boat to the shore, when police say a larger boat went by and rocked their boat, knocking them into the water with the boat still running.

For at least 45 minutes, they were stuck swimming while wearing layers of clothing. The woman was wearing a fleece sweater which added weight.

“She exhausted herself and climbed on the back of her husband and he continued swimming toward shore,” Martin said. “They had current, they had the wind, they had the chop of the water and they had to worry about their boat hitting them.”

The couple refused medical treatment. The boat eventually ran aground and police say the couple took it back to their sailboat.

Officers say the rescue services as a reminder to wear a life jacket when on the water, not just to stay afloat but to be more visible.

They also say consider keeping a whistle with you to get someone’s attention. Police say at least one boat passed the couple without seeing them in the water to offer help.