ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 3, 2009 – Nick Schuyler, a former University of South Florida (USF) football player was found alive clinging to the top of an overturned fishing boat 38 miles west of Tampa Bay yesterday. The 21-foot vessel, which departed Saturday morning for a Gulf of Mexico fishing trip, was also carrying NFL players Marquis Cooper and Cory Smith, and another former USF player, William Bleakley. A search continues for the three missing players. All were reported to be wearing life jackets.
“Our hearts go out to the families of these young men,” said BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water President Ruth Wood. The Foundation is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit education and research organization and is funded by members of Boat Owners Association of The United States.
“While we don’t know how this may end, this incident shows us that an offshore fishing trip can turn life-threatening very quickly,” she added.
The BoatU.S. Foundation offers these tips:
File a float plan and make sure you adhere to it. By filing a float plan with a reliable family member or friend, they will be your first life-line to safety by letting the authorities know when you are overdue, where you had planned to go, and what time you were supposed to return.
Have a Digital Selective Calling (DSC) VHF radio and ensure it’s connected to your GPS receiver. With the U.S. Coast Guard’s modern coastal “Rescue 21” system now operational in many parts of the country, including the Gulf Coast, anyone aboard a boat can simply press the mayday button on the radio that automatically gives rescuers precise location information. DSC VHF radios are also now available in hand-held models.
Purchase or rent an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). These satellite beacons are used for passages 20 miles or more from shore, beyond VHF radio range, and can be automatically activated to summon help. The Foundation rents these lifesaving beacons to anglers, racers and other coastal passage makers who have a temporary need for this safety device. To date, the rental beacons have saved 62 lives.
For more information on boating safety, go to BoatUS.com/foundation .