Dispatches VIDEO: 7 hours adrift on a cooler
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VIDEO: 7 hours adrift on a cooler

A cooler turned out to be a lifesaver for two brothers who spent seven hours in the water Monday without life jackets off Key Biscayne, Fla.

The brothers were fishing about 3 miles out when their 12-foot boat capsized in choppy conditions about 2:30 a.m., according to ABC News.

There were PFDs for both of the men on board, but they were stowed beneath seats and went down with the boat. Their cooler, however, rose to the surface. One brother grabbed the cooler’s base; the other clung to the lid.

The current separated the pair as they drifted, but the older brother made it to shore about 9:30. He was spotted by a woman on the beach, who called 911 on her cellphone.

Click play for a news report and footage of the rescue.

A Coast Guard Station Miami Beach crew was preparing to depart on a training mission and diverted to search for the man. They located the exhausted younger brother 20 minutes later about a half-mile offshore.

“When he came on board our vessel he was physically exhausted and showing early onset of hypothermia,” Petty Officer First Class Abiola Ideraabdullah told ABC News. “He was barely hanging on to the lid of the cooler. That was basically what saved his life, the lid of the cooler.”

"The Coast Guard highly recommends the use of personal flotation devices to all boaters," Ideraabdullah said in a Coast Guard press release about the incident. "The chances for survival are greatly increased when boaters wear their flotation devices, along with using float plans describing your intentions."

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