The Easter weekend was busy for marine law enforcement in the Upper Keys as one man was hit by a boat propeller, and two other boaters had to be rescued after their boat started taking on water.
Both incidents happened at the same time -- about 4 p.m. Saturday off Islamorada, according to the Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The more serious case occurred at the Whale Harbor Sandbar on the oceanside at Mile Marker 84 when Derek Locke, 24, of Key Largo and Raymond Shontere, 21, were leaving the area in a 1984 20-foot Hydra Sport, said FWC spokesman Robert Dube.
Locke put the boat in gear, which caused Shontere to lose his balance and fall over the stern as he was reaching into a cooler, Dube said.
Shontere was cut in multiple places on his left arm by the boat's propeller. Locke drove the boat back to Whale Harbor Channel seeking medical help.
A Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputy saw the boat and stopped at the FWC substation near the Whale Harbor Bridge, where he called for paramedics and FWC officers to respond from Tavernier, Dube said.
At some point at the substation, Shontere ran away into a wooded area before paramedics arrived, but officers found him after a short chase, Dube said. He was treated and released at Mariners Hospital before being taken to Monroe County Detention Center in Plantation Key via the Baker Act due to his intoxication.
"He (Shontere) was very drunk from what I was told and evidently he never really came around at the hospital either," Dube said. "He wasn't able to communicate (clearly), so that's why they took him to the jail. We can't release people in that condition because they're a danger to themselves."
Locke was subsequently charged on suspicion of misdemeanor BUI after officers reported his blood alcohol level was .172, Dube said.
In the second incident, the Coast Guard received the short message about the same time in an unrelated incident: "Taking on water, taking on water. Abandoning ship," said spokesman Lt. Peter Bermont of the distress call. Watchstanders then lost contact with the 55-foot recreational vessel.
Crews used the Rescue 21 system, which uses signal reception at multiple towers to triangulate vessel location, to narrow the search field. A helicopter from Miami found the two boaters about six miles off Islamorada in the Atlantic Ocean, Bermont said.
A rescue boat from Coast Guard Station Islamorada arrived and took the boaters to shore while a commercial tow company pulled the listing vessel to a nearby dock.
There were no serious injuries reported. No report was available as to the nature of the problem with the boat.