3 boaters rescued from water at Little Talbot Island

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Three men are lucky to be alive after a dramatic rescue was caught on camera at Little Talbot Island State Park.

Rescue personnel pulled three men from the surf off the park in northeast Duval County late Thursday after their boat starting taking on water.

The incident involved a boat and a personal watercraft. When rescuers arrived, all three men were in the water wearing life jackets.

The U.S. Coast Guard was called to help, but canceled the response when told that all three people were safe on the beach. 

Justina Stillwell was there and spotted the men when she heard them yelling for help. She snapped picture after picture of the rescue after she dialed 911 as the men were trapped in the water roughly 100 yards off shore.

"They were whistling and waving their hands up in the air and waving for help. I yelled back I was on phone with 911, and they calmed down," Stillwell said.

Stillwell stayed on the phone with 911 until Jacksonville fire and police crews responded, eventually going in and rescuing the men, who were caught near a capsized small boat and a sea-doo.

"It was scary. I was freaked out. I thought they were gone. I was frustrated with 911, they were like, ‘Do you see an ambulance?' I was like, ‘no.' The two other guys, I couldn't see them anymore, so I was pretty scared," Stillwell said.

There is still no word on what caused the boat to sink or where the men took off from but fortunately Stillwell said the men appeared OK.

"They were doing great, (they) all shook my hand and thanked me. Luckily my daughter and I were wearing bright colors. They didn't notice there was another guy that had been on beach that had bene there awhile, but they saw the colors so they were able to get someone on the beach to get them out of there immediately," Stillwell said.

The boat was left in the water after the rescue and it's up to the owner to pull the boat out of the water. A local maritime expert said if someone comes along and salvages the boat they might legally be able to claim 50 percent of the boat's value.

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