Father, son rescued in Everglades after airboat sinks
WEST BROWARD, Fla. (WSVN) -- A South Florida father and his teenage son are back on solid ground after they found themselves stranded in the Everglades when their brand-new airboat sank.
Broward Sheriff's Office Fire Rescue officials rescued Will Cazanas and his 13-year-old son William and returned them to the airboat ramp, off Loxahatchee Road, from which they had departed earlier on Friday.
Skyforce HD captured the rescue two miles west of Sample Road. 7's Skyforce photographer Ralph Rayburn found the airboaters around 4 p.m. Friday and directed BSO officials to their location.
Cazanas, a City of West Palm Beach Police officer, said he and his son were returning from Sawgrass Recreation Park. This was only their fourth airboat outing. "Halfway back, [William said], 'Dad, I want to drive, I want to drive,'" he said. "I said, 'All right,' so I let him drive."
Shortly after Cazanas allowed William behind the wheel, the vessel hit a tough patch of sawgrass. "The back end went down, the front end went up," Cazanas said. "It doesn't take long to fill up with water."
William corroborated his father's account. "The nose went up on the sawgrass, and the bottom went under," said the 13-year-old, "and then it just swamped it, and the prop went under, and it shut off the motor."
Father and son were stranded, 12 miles west of the Loxahatchee Road boat ramp and 3 miles east of US-27 in Western Broward County for about an hour and a half. Cazanas called his wife Debbie to inform her what had happened and to give her their location. She then called 911. "I just knew that it was getting darker, so I wanted to make sure that they were found before anything happened later," she said.
A BSO helicopter hovered about 30 feet above the two boaters around 4:30 p.m. as fire rescue officers lowered an orange supply bag to the two men. Cazanas had a cooler, but it was blown into the water by the helicopter's rotors.
An airboat guided by the helicopter approached the sunken vessel shortly before 5 p.m. and rescued the boaters, taking them back to the airboat ramp. When asked what was the first thing the airboaters told him, BSO Lt. Fred North said, "'Thank you,' and they were very appreciative of our Air Rescue helicopter also."
Neither of them suffered any injuries. "It's all right," said Cazanas. "I've got my health and nobody got hurt. That's all that matters."
Cazanas added that he is not going to let this ordeal deter him from returning to the Everglades, as soon as the airboat is fixed. "But you know what they all tell me? 'You're not real airboaters until you sink one,'" Cazanas added, "so I guess I graduated today."
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