Four adults and three children under the age of 6 were thrown into the water 4 miles off Sanibel Island in Florida when their sportfishing boat rapidly took on water and capsized.
Carlos Cavenago, who was on the boat, told WINK-TV that the group was competing in a fishing tournament Saturday afternoon when water started gushing into the boat.
"Within seconds, we realized that we were going down," Cavenago told the TV station. "All of the adults grabbed the kids and we jumped as far away from the boat as possible and the boat capsized."
Because the accident happened so fast — within 60 seconds, they said — no distress call was made.
“Luckily there was a huge air pocket in the bow. That's what kept it from going to the bottom,” said Sea Tow Capt. Howard Gilley, who was the last one to arrive at the boat.
One adult and two children managed to huddle on the overturned hull and three adults and one child clung to floating coolers.
Rescue would not come for two hours. It was prompted by a text from the boat owner to his wife, who made a frantic 911 call informing authorities of the capsize and prompting a search-and-rescue effort.
"We were just holding on for dear life," Cavenago told WINK News.
Grant Lacy of the Coast Guard told WFTX-TV that Sanibel Fire and Rescue was first at the scene.
"The situation went OK due to the fact that they had lifesaving equipment on board. They were able to put on their life jackets and they were able to make a phone call before going in the water," Lacy said.