MIAMI, Fla. (CBS12) — The U.S. Coast Guard repatriated 180 people back to Haiti, including 46 children.
Coast Guard officials said a good Samaritan alerted Key West watchstanders of an overloaded sailing vessel on Monday, Nov. 21 at around 5 a.m.
Coast Guard air and surface assets, and Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations crews immediately responded to investigate.
Video captured by air crews show the overcrowded boat as it bobs across the rough waves of the Atlantic. Moments later a cutter crew can be seen battling six to ten foot waves, while moving in to assist the people on the boat.
By 7 p.m., Coast guard officials said the 50 foot sailing vessel hit a sand bar south of Whale Harbor resulting in multiple reports of people in the water. U.S. Border Patrol reported rescuing 18 people.
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Coast Guard crews said there were 89 men, 55 women, and 46 children aboard the cutter. The remaining 10 people are still going through a joint interagency process and disposition has yet to be decided.
"These people were packed into an overloaded, unsafe vessel without safety equipment," said Lt. C. Box, Coast Guard District Seven. "The weather was so bad, these people are lucky we got to them when we did."
Since Oct. 1, 2022, Coast Guard officials said crews have interdicted 585 Haitian migrants compared to: