Two Rescued and Two Missing off Horseshoe Beach
Officers with Florida Fish and Wildlife are still searching for two men who've been lost at sea since Saturday.
There is no final word on the fate of the two lost men, but two other men were rescued after spending more than 20 hours in the ocean.
"At one point I was writing my own obituary," said Frank DiPaula.
Seventy-eight- year- old Frank DiPaula of Keystone Heights is one out of two men who survived 24 hours hanging off a boat in the Gulf of Mexico.
DiPaula said he and the three other men set sailed on his boat at around 7:30 a.m. on Saturday.
They expected to go out and catch some grouper, but DiPaula said the early morning weather was unbearable.
"The wind was blowing like you can't believe and I noticed we were taking on a lot of water. I said to Tom, you better put out a mayday. I think we are in trouble," said DiPaula.
He started searching for lifevest, but didn't have enough time to put one on.
"As soon as I put my hand on the lock, we dumped right over," said Frank DiPaula.
The men fought the high waves and gripped on to a rope that was tied to the 21 foot boat.
DiPaula said he watched 70-year- Glen Harris struggle to survive.
"He was swallowing water like there was no tomorrow," said DiPaula.
He kept telling his friend, 63- year-old Thomas Morrison of Keystone Heights, not to give up.
"I said to him, "Come on Tom we are winners not quitters." "He said no Frank, let me go Frank," said DiPaula.
There was one more man fighting for his life.
Sixty-seven- year- old Thomas Grant of Keystone Heights.
"Tom kept saying to me Frank don't leave me. I said alright I will try not to leave you alone, but we have to keep talking to each other," said DiPaula.
The men watched a United States Coast Guard search plane circle above and shrimp boats sail by.
"We were screaming "Help! Help," on the top of our lungs, but they couldn't hear us," said DiPaula.
As the sun went down and the darkness set in, the men spent the hours praying for someone to find them.
"At one point I really questioned God. In my heart not in my ears. I hear the lord in my heart, he said to me "in my time," said DiPaula.
At around 8:30 a.m. Sunday, the search place found the overturned boat about 14 miles off Horseshoe Beach.
Rescuing DiPaula and Grant and still looking for the two other boaters.
"The main part of the search will be within the next couple of days. Hopefully we will be successful before then," said Roy Williams who is the FWC Watch Commander for Dizie and Gilchrist Counties.
While the search continues, DiPaula said he will appreciate life even more now.
"Nobody can know what is was like there unless they were there. Nobody," said DiPaula.
Williams with FWC said officers will continue to search for Morrison and Harris in the waters off Horseshoe beach throughout the week.
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