CRYSTAL RIVER (FOX 13) - Five boaters are safe this weekend after a good Samaritan helped save them from their burning boat.
The 76-foot fishing boat caught fire 16 miles off the coast of Crystal River Saturday afternoon. Charter boat Captain David Bickel heard the Coast Guard radio traffic about the distressed ship and never thought twice about what he and his crew should do.
“A boat out there in distress and people in the water. That's some dire need so there was no question,” said Bickel.
Bickel and his crew inputted the coordinates into their GPS and saw they were about 30 miles away. Bickel says it didn’t take long for his first mate to see smoke in the distance.
“It was still fully engulfed the tuna tower, the whole upper decks were gone. It was pretty much just the whole of the boat. It was fire bow to stern.”
Bickel and his crew found the stranded boaters in a life raft. They loaded the boaters onto their boat and took them the 60 miles back to shore. Bickel says he and his crew only did what he hopes others would do for them.
“If I was to ever go out there and get in trouble, I would sure hope somebody would come help me.”