Emotional moment family spot son lost at sea after he was swept away by currents

ITV News Correspondent Mark McQuillan on the remarkable rescue of a 21-year-old missing diver in Florida.


Footage capturing the emotional moment a family spotted a 21-year-old diver who went missing off the coast of Florida has gone viral on social media.

Experienced free-diver Dylan Gartenmayer had entered the water near Key West, Florida when he disappeared on January 19.

His friends raised the alarm after he failed to surface from his dive, prompting a rescue mission involving his family and the Coast Guard.

Dylan had been missing around two hours when his family suddenly spotted him in the water.

In clip filmed onboard the family's rescue boat, one person can be heard shouting "there he is", before several people start celebrating, cheering his name.

The video was posted to TikTok by Dylan's cousin Priscilla Gartenmayer, and has garnered 30 million views in just four days.

In a second video he is seen swimming towards the boat and is quickly helped aboard, before being embraced by his family.

Dylan swam towards the boat as his family cheered. Credit: TikTok / kmermaidp

Dylan began diving when he was just 11 - experience his family says helped him survive when a strong current pulled him under the water.

He survived by making a raft out of mooring buoys and using a bamboo stick to float.

He found the stick first, and used it to help keep himself afloat as he swam two miles in the direction of the reef.

Although the Coast Guard found that Dylan's body temperature was low after he was rescued, he was able to be safely warmed up.


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A day after the rescue, Priscilla shared clips of Dylan telling his story on her TikTok.

He said that while diving, he noticed the current had picked up "considerably", adding: "The current ended up taking me faster and faster from them [his friends] and I got to a point where the boat had disappeared."

He continued: "I got lucky and a piece of bamboo that was big enough to float me ended up drifting about 30 feet to the east of me, so I swam over to that and hung on that for a while.

"I had a big sea turtle come up around me and started to get closer and closer to me. I had the idea if I could grab onto him maybe I could steer him but I knew that wasn't going to work. He ended up leaving."

Dylan said he "ended up making a swim for it" because he feared if he drifted further out to sea, his chances of being found would be reduced.

Luckily, he could see land and swam towards it.

He fashioned a makeshift raft out of three mooring buoys and pulled himself onto the craft in an attempt to conserve his body heat.

"By some miracle my parents and everybody else onboard my grandfather's boat had ended up driving and basically landing right on top of me. My buddy ended up spotting me out on the horizon and from there on they came and picked me up," he said.

The makeshift raft helped him stand out among the waves, and he drew their attention by waving his arms.

Dylan finished the video by thanking the Coast Guard.

In an Instagram story on Tuesday, he wrote: "Just wanted to thank everyone again for everyone involved directly and indirectly."


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