Lost At Sea

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 10:08am

Family spends 20 hours treading water after their boat capsizes.

An elderly woman drowned and seven family members had to tread water for about 20 hours Sunday after the boat they were in sank near Marathon, Florida.

Four women, three men and a 4-year-old girl were in the 22-foot boat near Tennessee Reef Lighthouse off Long Key when a large wave capsized their boat.

Zaida San Jurjo Gonzalez, 79, from Hialeah, has drowned and her body hasn't been recovered, said Officer Robert Dube of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

She wasn't wearing a lifejacket.

David Jensen, the captain of the boat called Snapshot, picked up three men from the rough waters, while the Coast Guard found the three women and girl.

Jensen had five customers aboard his charter boat and had just set out to go fishing around 8:30 a.m. Sunday when he saw something in the water.

"It looked like a boat and the guy was waving in the water," Jensen said. "As we got closer, it ended up being three guys in the water hanging onto the boat."

Officials said three men were without lifejackets and clung to the boat, while three women and the child were wearing life preservers and were floating.

At some point the elderly woman went under and didn't resurface, according to the Coast Guard.

"They were shaking," Jensen said. "It was pretty crazy. Obviously, we were fishing so you look for things floating in the water."

The boat left Layton, near Islamorada, Saturday despite small craft warnings and capsized around noon Saturday, officials said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission assisted in the rescue and is investigating the incident.

"They should go play the lottery," Jensen said of the survivors.

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