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A Monroe County Sheriff’s Office detective and his wife, a public information officer for the county, saved two boaters whose catamaran capsized Wednesday afternoon.
Sgt. Mark Coleman and Cammy Clark were heading out to the bay on their boat late in the afternoon for some kiteboarding, but rainy weather started coming in, so they turned around and headed toward Snake Creek. As they made their way, Coleman spotted an overturned sailing vessel and saw what looked like a man clinging to the craft.
“Mark said to me, ‘Looks like we’re going to have to do a water rescue,'” said Clark, who added she did not see the craft in the rough seas.
The man in the water told them he was fine, but he was concerned about his friend, who had fallen in the water and was not in sight, said Sheriff’s Office spokesman Adam Linhardt.
Coleman radioed the U.S. Coast Guard to give crews the area of the capsized vessel, then pointed his boat upwind to find the other man.
“I was super scared we weren’t going to be able to find the other guy,” Clark said, noting the water began to get choppier with the weather.
Twenty minutes later, they spotted the man, Tommy Jensen of Denmark, bobbing in the rough seas without a life jacket. Coleman and Clark pulled him aboard their vessel. They said he was weary and grateful, and joked he was glad he fell into the water in the Keys and not the frigid seas off Denmark.
Clark and Coleman gave Jensen a blanket and water. Clark said Jensen contacted Coleman Thursday to again say how thankful he was to be rescued. The other man’s name was not immediately available.
A Coast Guard crew took the men to Station Islamorada to be checked out by medics. They were not injured, Linhardt said. They said wind flipped the catamaran over as a fast-moving storm blew through the Upper Keys.
Both Clark, who covered the Keys as a reporter for the Miami Herald before joining Monroe County, and Coleman are avid water sports enthusiasts, and Coleman is the leader of the Sheriff’s Office dive team. Clark credited her husband’s years of experience as a boater for being able to spot Jensen.
“I’m pretty sure the men would have been out in the water all night if not for Mark’s eagle eyes,” she said.
Coleman said it’s all part of being a responsible member of the boating community.
“It’s the responsibility of every boater to be constantly aware of your surroundings and to help those in distress,” he said.