A 21-year-old freediver from Florida was caught in the mighty Gulf Stream, which swept him into shark-infested waters – before his elated family found him hours later amid cries of “the There ! »
Dylan Gartenmayer was snorkeling — holding his breath about 35 feet underwater — near Key West on Thursday as two friends waited in their boat, NBC Miami reported.
Conditions quickly deteriorated and the group set out for shore, where Gartenmayer decided he wanted to do one more dive.
“So I ran out and that’s when it all started to happen,” he told the outlet.
Suddenly, Gartenmayer was swept away by the current and dragged 150 feet, where he managed to hold his breath for about two minutes before resurfacing.
He said he swam about a mile to a channel marker, while clutching a piece of bamboo that was floating in the water.
Meanwhile, his friends and family worried about his whereabouts.
Gartenmayer’s mother, Tabitha, said she received an upsetting call from her ex-husband.
“’Tab, something’s wrong with Dylan! They haven’t seen him in an hour,” she told NBC. “And from then on, this feeling came over me, like that, and I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t speak.
The family quickly mobilized and set out to find their missing loved one, with the US Coast Guard as they raced to his last known location.
“We had the coordinates that were given to us, but he obviously wasn’t there,” Tabitha told NBC Miami.
Meanwhile, Gartenmayer said he saw the Coast Guard in the distance.
“I could see their blue lights, the helicopter moving forward, doing its grid. My bamboo had started moving away from me,” he said.
Gartenmayer and his cousin Priscilla documented the drama in a series of captivating social media posts, Insider reported.
“I knew the further I wandered off, the less chance I had of being found, and that was pulling me out deeper and deeper,” Gartenmayer said.
Gartenmayer said he cut three mooring balls and created a raft to “contain body heat” while the sharks swam around the area.
“By a miracle, my parents and everyone on my grandfather’s boat had ended up driving and landing right on top of me,” he said.
Gartenmayer said he waved his spear to get their attention and his friend Joel Cruz eventually spotted him.
Priscilla has shot several TikTok videos that have gone viral, including one in which family and friends scream in excitement when they spot the stranded diver.
“Here it is!” we hear them scream.
In a follow-up post, Priscilla captioned a video of her exhausted and frozen cousin being pulled onto the boat and into the arms of her rescuers.
“We have lived in Key West for many generations,” she wrote. “And we have deceased family members who we left to rest at sea and we really feel like they protected him.”
The Coast Guard checked Gartenmayer’s vital signs and found he had a “low core temperature, but that’s about it,” Priscilla wrote.
“He spent the night in his bed, safe and sound. We are very grateful,” she added.
A Coast Guard official said the service is grateful Gartenmayer was safely recovered.
“Too often, missing diver cases do not have positive outcomes, and the circumstances of this case did not provide for one,” said Lt. Cmdr. Elizabeth Tatum, the search and rescue mission coordinator, told NBC Miami.
“The sunset, the weather and Dylan’s outfit all worked against us in this case, but his foresight of tying the mooring balls together to make him a bigger target in the water was smart,” a- she added.