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Couple treaded water for 14 hours after falling off boat: Hypothermia, jellyfish

A couple treaded water for 14 hours after falling off their boat not far from the Key Largo coast. They have since been found and treated for both hypothermia and mild jellyfish stings, but are expected to make a full recovery in the coming weeks. The Christian Post states this Monday, June 23, 2014, that the Florida couple is just grateful to be alive after drifting almost 70 miles over open water in a shocking ordeal.

Couple treaded water for over 14 hours rescued
Wikimedia Creative Commons

Although boat accidents unfortunately occur every day in Florida, it’s almost unheard of for people to be stranded in the ocean for well over half a day. A couple treaded water for 14 hours this week after they both suddenly fell off their boat — without even having their life jackets on. The man and woman were discovered over the weekend by several police officers (who were off duty at the time) while taking a fishing trip in Fort Lauderdale.

The identities of these two unwilling seafaring victims have been revealed this morning as 60-year-old Sean McGovern and 52-year-old Mellissa Morris. At the time that they fell from their large 30-foot boat, McGovern said that neither he nor Morris were wearing their life jackets. It seemed that an unexpected burst of speed while the vessel was in gear caused the boat to jet off, tossing them overboard and leaving them behind.

According to a statement from News Oxy earlier today:

“Saturday morning at about 8 a.m., two detectives from the Broward County Police Department, a local firefighter and one of the officers’ father-in-law went fishing and saw splashing in the water. They dragged them into the boat and turned them over to the U.S. Coast Guard.”

After they were stranded in the water, both victims — who suffered both hypothermia as well as jellyfish stings during the harrowing ordeal — realized their only hope for survival was to stay afloat as long as possible and hope that help would arrive. Thankfully, it did. The fishermen who managed to find the exhausted couple who treaded water for 14 hours were said to be “stunned” to spot the man and woman on Saturday morning.

“We were all stunned, we all looked at each other and asked are we seeing what we think we’re seeing,” said one officer.

Although the duo was alive, the fishermen quickly understood that their traumatic experience had. Their safety was put first, as the off-duty officers could see that both McGovern and Morris were shivering uncontrollably, and seemed to have been stung by several jellyfish. An emergency Coast Guard pickup was called for, and the couple was soon receiving treatment for hypothermia at a local hospital. As for the runaway boat, you ask? It was found later that day on a Fort Lauderdale beach. Fortunately, this is one survival story with a happy ending, where an enduring couple proved they wouldn't let falling off their boat or even 14 hours in the water defeat them.

“We checked them out, made sure they were stable,” one law enforcement authority from the local sheriff’s office said. “We’re just glad [they] were found in time.”

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