Dylan Gartenmayer is fortunate to be alive after a lucky escape on Jan. 19.
Dylan was free diving off the coast of Key West, Florida, when a powerful underwater current swept him away, and upon resurfacing his boat was nowhere in sight. His friends on the boat called his cousin, Priscilla Gartenmayer, at around 5:45 p.m., after a fruitless two-hour search. Upon hearing the news, Priscilla and her boyfriend Joel Cruz immediately took her grandparents’ boat out to the area where Dylan was last seen.
“We were told that he went down for a dive and did not resurface,” Priscilla said. “So we were thinking the worst.”
As the sun went down there was still no sign of Dylan. Being familiar with the area, Priscilla hoped her cousin would try to swim to a nearby reef, but the reef was over two miles away off the Boca Chica Key.
“Before we even completely stopped the boat to start looking, Joel spotted Dylan near the channel marker that marked that reef,” Priscilla said. “The joy we felt in that moment is indescribable.”
Dylan was pulled aboard the boat by his tearful and relieved family. Shortly after the Coast Guard picked Dylan up to check on his vitals. Apart from a slightly low core temperature, Dylan was deemed perfectly fine. His family came to take him away.
“The water temperature was around 78 degrees (25 degrees Celsius), according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, and while that temperature sounds warm, hypothermia can set in. A swimmer can succumb to exhaustion and even unconsciousness in as little as three hours submerged, according to the Coast Guard Auxiliary,” Fox Weather reports.
Dylan has been diving and spearfishing since the age of 11, and his experience kept him alive. “If he was anyone else, I don’t think it would’ve been the same outcome,” Priscilla Gartenmayer said. “He still knew where he was, he knew which way land was. That’s the reason he survived.”