Clearwater, Florida -- Eight people were rescued by Coast Guard boat and air crews near Anclote Key early Friday morning.
Around midnight, Coast Guard watchstanders received a report of an unstable raft with four people aboard, approximately one-mile northeast of Anclote Key. A rescue effort was launched in response.
Around 12:50 a.m., St. Petersburg watchstanders then received a call from Pasco County dispatch reporting three people stranded on the Anclote Key beach with the water rising. Due to dense vegetation, the people on the island were unable to get to higher ground. They were reported to from the same party as those in the raft.
A boatcrew arrived on scene with the raft around 2 a.m. and saved four people from the vessel and a fifth person who was in a kayak. The helicopter rescue crew, who was in the vicinity, located the three people on Anclote Key, hoisted them to safety and transported them to Clearwater Airport.
Of the eight people rescued, only one had a working cell phone, and no one was wearing a lifejacket.
"When you are on an unstable craft, such as a raft or kayak, it is important to always have a lifejacket on," said Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Bonneau, situation unit controller at Sector St. Petersburg. "You don't want to end up in the water with out one. It is a matter of life or death."
There were no reports of any injuries.
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