Florida Family ‘Miracle’-Find 21-year-old Free Diver Son After He Was Swept Out to Sea
21-year-old Dylan Gartenmayer has been rescued after being swept miles away by the Gulf Stream while free diving and spearfishing more than five miles off the Florida Keys with two friends.
Gartenmayer was with two friends when he descended for a final dive of the day around the West Sambo Reef last Thursday. To their surprise, he never came back up for air, so they notified the U.S. Coast Guard, according to The Daily Mail.
Nearly four hours since he was last seen and after covering at least 2 miles, Gartenmayer was found clinging to two buoys he had cut from a reef.
Once found, Gartemmayer explained the ordeal.
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“I do a lot of deep free diving, so I like to go over 100 plus feet on a single breath. They were mainly looking down, thinking I blacked out from a lack of oxygen,”
But that’s not what kept him from the surface. Water conditions were worsening when he went for one last dive. During that dive, he was at a depth of about 35 feet when suddenly currents swept him out to depths of 150 feet – keeping him submerged for around two minutes. While an ordeal like that would likely kill most people, Gartenmayer, raised in the Keys, has over a decade of experience in free diving and spearfishing.
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Gartenmeyer’s friends immediately contacted Coast Guard and notified his family to initiate a search operation, sharing with everyone the coordinates of where he had gone for the last dive.
His family went out in his grandfather’s boat to search for him. They described the miraculous moment that just minutes after arriving at the reef, and just minutes before sunset slowed down the search, one of his friends on the boat spotted something strange – two buoys tied together. As they approached, they saw Gartenmeyer at the surface, just 0.3 miles from where he had initially started four hours earlier. His initial temperature was low, but he recovered in just an hour.
A free diver is telling a remarkable story of survival, after he says he was swept away by a powerful current while diving off the Florida Keys. His family said they rescued him in shark infested waters after a desperate search. pic.twitter.com/citviJOEL1
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) January 24, 2023
After swimming for 2 miles, Gartenmayer told NBC6 that he cut the buoys off the reef and fashioned a hammock out of them in preparation to brave the night.
‘There was a bunch of bait blowing up around me. I knew that there were big fish eating that bait. I was ready to fight the night out but I’m glad I didn’t have to.”
Gartenmeyer’s mother called the find a miracle.
“It’s a miracle we landed right on my son in a needle in a haystack. You’re in the middle of the ocean, and that’s God.”
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