7 rescued by Coast Guard off f Atlantic Beach

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – A man rescued by the United States Coast Guard off of a 58 foot trawler, along with his brother-in-law and five kids, spoke to Channel 4 about the events of the rescue.

"The police and the Coast Guard, they did an excellent job," said Captain James Lee. "I thank God for them."

The boat is still anchored about a half mile offshore about a mile north of Nassau Sound in Fernandina Beach. Lee says he was out shrimping with his five children and brother-in-law Saturday afternoon when the engine conked out.

"Once the engine shut down, I had no way to control the boat," said Lee. "It's just going to end up wherever the tide and wind's going to take it."

The boat was heading towards the beach so Lee threw out his anchor, but it didn't catch.

"When there's six to 8-foot seas, you know, anything could happen," Lee said.

Lee radioed for help and the Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and a Nassau County Marine unit responded.

"The Nassau County Sheriff's Office had gotten my 2-year-old child on the boat, my 9-year-old, my 11-year-old and they were getting my 14-year-old on board, and they slammed in the side of my boat, and one of the sheriff's officers fell into the water, and it took them about five minutes to get him out," Lee said.

Meanwhile, a Coast Guard helicopter showed up from Savannah, but since conditions were rough, they decided to airlift the rest of the crew.

"I was just happy my kids were okay," Lee said. "I was the last one off the boat, besides the Coast Guard diver."

The family reunited at Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville, thankful to be on dry land.

"My 11-year old isn't (going shrimping again)," Lee said. "He says he's never going on a boat again."

Two days later, Lee was in the process of picking up the shrimp boat to tow back to Brunswick.