A scuba diver left adrift 6 miles off the Florida Keys was found by accident when two off-duty cops mistook him for an injured seabird.
Turns out the “bird” they saw a quarter of a mile away was a human, desperately waving his arms, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office reported in a July 27 news release.
The rescued diver’s name was not released, but his rescuers were identified as Lt. David Woolf and Lt. Eric Thoresen of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. The two men and their wives were fishing when the rescue happened the first week of July, officials said.
“I thought I saw what might be a bird down on the water flapping its wing. Like it was injured,” Woolf said in the post.
He turned the boat around and headed toward the bird to investigate. But as they got closer, Thoresen realized it was a man “in distress and drifting away from land.”
“What they found was a diver who had been swept away from his boat by the current. A boat that was later found about 2 miles away!” the sheriff’s office said.
Woolf notified the U.S. Coast Guard and learned a lost diver alert call had just been issued, including coordinates of the man’s boat.
“Call it luck, call it being vigilant even on their days off, call it whatever you want. We may just call it a miracle,” the sheriff’s office said.
“We are happy to report that the diver was safely returned in good health and the lieutenants were able to land a few fish by the end of the day too!”
Details of how the man became separated from his boat were not released.