Caller begs 911 dispatcher to send help as boat sinks during storm


(ABC NEWS)- Six people were rescued Monday morning after the family’s pontoon boat got caught in a storm and began sinking off the coast of Florida.

They were approximately three miles south of the Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon, Florida, when waves from a strong storm began slamming the boat.

One of the passengers called the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office at 11:08 a.m., saying the boat had lost power and the motor wouldn’t run, but that the family was close enough to the bridge to see cars.

Dana Thomas, the woman heard for the majority of the call, sounds more and more distressed as the 13-minute call progresses.

“Our boat is sinking. Please send someone,” Thomas pleads, as the dispatcher passes the information on to responding officers and Coast Guard officials.

The family, from Jacksonville, was unfamiliar with the area and unable to provide an exact location to the dispatcher.

Adam Lindhardt of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office told ABC News that the passengers were unable to find their flares, but that everyone was wearing a life jacket.

“Please help us! We’re going over,” Thomas told the dispatcher, who was trying to calm her down, saying that help was on the way. “Please help us! Please help us!”

At one point, the passengers spotted a boat moving toward them, which eventually made contact. While the passengers attempted to move onto the new boat, they appeared to be struggling, saying that the boat had floated away after only one passenger made it on.

Eventually Thomas drops off the call, but, according to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office, “a good Samaritan boater and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission assisted in the response” and rescued the family. The passengers were taken to a nearby restaurant.

None of the four adults or two children on board reported serious injuries.

The pontoon boat was recovered by TowBoatUS Marathon owner, Capt. Jared Frank, who told ABC News that it was halfway submerged when he got there and could have sunk if it stayed out there any longer.

Frank also told ABC News that the boat belonged to the family, and that he was able to return it after towing it out of the water.

The family declined to comment to ABC News.

Daniella Hankey

Good Morning West Virginia! Daniella Hankey is the Morning and Noon newscast Anchor. Daniella joined Newswatch as a Multi-Media journalist and quickly moved her way up to an Anchor. Before landing in the beautiful Mountain State, Daniella called her home Orlando, Florida. Armed with a major in Communications and Media Studies and a minor in Education, Daniella relocated to further her career. During her time at Stetson, she covered several big stories on and off campus including the June 2016 Pulse Night Club shooting and Hurricane Matthew. She worked as a news anchor and reporter for her college news station and enjoyed an internship in productions at PBS. Her love for journalism started in high school when she was selected as a Bright House Varsity Reporter as well as the school anchor. When Daniella is not working, you can find her exploring West Virginia especially the Greenbrier and engaging with community members. As a morning anchor, Daniella loves putting a smile on viewers faces in the morning and informing them of community events. If you have any story ideas or news tips, please email Daniella at You can also follow Daniella on Facebook at DaniellaHankeyTV.

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