POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – The castaways a U.S. Coast Guard crew rescued from an uninhabited Bahamian island, between Key West and Cuba, were in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Wednesday.
Lower Keys Medical Center doctors in Monroe County released the Cuban nationals, to authorities. ICE detained them in Broward County pending a hearing with an immigration judge.
A U.S. Coast Guard crew found the woman and two men on Anguilla Cay, during a routine patrol on Monday near the southeast extremity of Cay Sal Bank.
“We were alerted to them by the flags that they actually had — in addition to a large cross that they put out there for themselves,” Aircraft Commander Mike Allert said.
The Coast Guard’s HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircrew from Miami dropped food, water and a radio, according to Lt. Justin Dougherty. The Coast Guard’s MH-60 helicopter crew from Clearwater rescued them.
Dougherty said the trio had been stranded there for 33 days after their boat capsized in rough waters and they were able to swim to the island.
“That is pretty extraordinary. It was incredible,” Dougherty said, adding they had probably survived on coconuts. “I don’t know how they did it. I am amazed that they were in such good shape.”
The castaways told a Coast Guard crew that they had survived there by eating the meat of conchs and rats, and what would have killed them was the lack of drinking water.
On Wednesday evening, the survivors were detainees at the ICE Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach.