Florida Keys

Florida Boy, 11, Helps With Grandparents' Rescue at Sea

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Authorities are praising an 11-year-old boy for staying calm, assisting them and following directions for more than an hour as his grandparents drifted away from their boat during a Florida Keys excursion.

The three were rescued by police, the U.S. Coast Guard and some commercial fishermen on Thursday.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office says the boy, Avani Perez, called 911 on a cellphone to report that his grandparents were in the water and drifting away.

The sheriff's office said the family had been boating in Islamorada when the anchor line of their boat became caught in the propeller. The grandfather first went in the water to free the line but began having trouble, then his wife followed and both struggled with the current.

Alone on the boat, the boy called 911 and spent an hour on the phone with a communications specialist who asked him to run through all the safety equipment. Avani also described how far his grandparents were using football yards as a reference until he couldn't see them.

“The whole time we were in the water we were like, we know he’s got this,” said the grandmother, Kim Harris. “He was raised on a boat.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and U.S. Coast Guard responded and alerted mariners and commercial fishermen in the area. After about an hour, some fishermen pulled the couple to safety.

The Coast Guard invited the boy on Friday to give him a gold coin and commend him for his actions.

“I did what I had to do,” Avani said. “There was no second choice. It had to happen.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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