13 Haitian immigrants in disabled vessel off the coast of Fort Pierce Sheriff Ken Mascara announced that at approximately 10:40 a.m., the U.S. Coast Guard Fort Pierce Station was notified of a vessel in distress near the 10A buoy off the coast of Fort Pierce.
According to the Sheriff, Coast Guard officials were near the Sebastian Inlet assisting another boater in distress and requested that the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit respond to the vessel to investigate.
“Our Marine Unit, along with officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission arrived in the area of the vessel in distress and found it was disabled with engine trouble and was anchored,” said Sheriff Ken J. Mascara. “The Marine Unit deputy observed 13 individuals who appeared to be Haitian on board the boat and requested the assistance of U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard.”
According to the Sheriff, the Marine Unit maintained a safe distance from the boat and other boaters nearby stated to the deputy that the passengers were seen throwing items overboard. Those items were not identified, said the Sheriff. “At this time, Customs and the Coast Guard have taken control of the vessel and its occupants and will be assuming the lead on this investigation,” Mascara said.