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Florida deputy rescues five people clinging to their capsized boat in the Gulf of Mexico 


Dramatic moment when a Florida deputy rescues five people clinging to their capsized boat in the Gulf of Mexico as Storms Marco passes through

  • The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office released footage of a capsized boat rescue
  • Body camera footage showed Marine Unit Cpl. Mitch Bollenbacher rescuing five people after their 20-foot boat capsized in the Gulf of Mexico 
  • Bollenbacher can be seen hauling the passengers onto his boat on Saturday
  • The passengers had made a mayday call, picked up by the US Coast Guard 

By Maxine Shen For

Published: | Updated:

A Florida police officer’s body cam footage revealed the dramatic moments when he rescued five people after their boat capsized in the Gulf of Mexico

The video, released on Facebook by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, shows its marine unit deputy Cpl. Mitch Bollenbacher carrying out the rescue on Saturday, about 15 miles northwest of Anclote Key in Pasco County, Florida. 

Bollenbacher’s camera shows him motoring up to the site where the mostly submerged, 20-foot vessel was located. 

At the time, four of the passengers were sitting on the upturned boat, while the fifth floated in the water nearby.  

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office released body cam footage of a boat rescue from Saturday. Five passengers (pictured) were stranded in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat flipped over

‘God d**n it’s good to see you,’ one of the passenger says, while another says, ‘We’ve got life jackets and we’re all set.’

When one of the passengers asks Bollenbacher how he’s doing, the deputy replies ‘I’m good,’ adding ‘Better than you!’ as he maneuvers closer. 

He then tells the passengers about the rescue plan and tosses them a rope that each of the passengers hold on to while swimming the short distance to Bollenbacher’s boat. 

At one point, Bollenbacher has to tell a passenger not to pull his boat towards theirs while they wait for their turn to get on the rescue boat. In that moment, his keel floats on top of the submerged portion of the capsized boat.  

The deputy’s bodycam footage shows him rushing back and forth on his deck and helping the passengers climb aboard during the four-minute rescue. 

‘I better not be on YouTube!’ one of the rescued passengers calls out.  

Cpl. Mitch Bollenbacher responded to their distress call and pulled the stranded passengers aboard his boat during the four-minute-long rescue 

The passengers used a rope Bollenbacher tossed them as a guide to help swim towards his boat. The deputy then pulled them on board 

Bollenbacher (left) was in the Coast Guard Reserve and is a certified EMT and scuba diver

The US Coast Guard released an image (shown) of the capsized boat. The Coast Guard picked up the passengers’ mayday call and also responded to the call, waiting nearby as backup

Also floating nearby is a US Coast Guard Station Sand Key 45-foot Response Boat-Medium, which, along with Bollenbacher, also responded to the passengers’ distress call. 

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg had received the passengers’ mayday report on channel 16, prior to the boat capsizing, according to a Coast Guard media alert.   

Marine VHF Channel 16 is the international distress frequency used by boaters. 

‘It’s so important to ensure safety equipment is working prior to leaving the dock,” Capt. Mathew Thompson, commanding officer at Sector St. Petersburg said in the alert. 

‘In cases like this the use of a life jackets and using channel 16 through a VHF-FM radio made a critical difference for the rescue units being able to provide support when the boaters were in distress.’

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said in its Facebook post: ‘This incident also serves as a reminder of the importance of having proper life jackets for all occupants, as well as other safety equipment that is in good working condition.’ 

The five rescued people were taken to shore with no reported injuries. 

Authorities have not released information about what caused the passengers’ boat to capsize. 

Bollenbacher was a Coast Guard reservist, is a certified EMT and scuba certified and grew up as an Eagle Scout and lifeguard. 

In a 2018 YouTube interview he said he tried out for the Sheriff’s Office’s Marine Unit because it was a childhood dream of his: ‘I want to be Baywatch on a boat,’ he said. 


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