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32 Rescued by Coast Guard in Biscayne Bay

8:18 PM, Oct 13, 2013   |    comments
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The Coast Guard and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rescued 32 people after a boat capsized in Biscayne Bay Sunday, according to the Coast Guard.

The victims, who suffered only minor injuries, were taken to the Four Ambassadors Suites Hotel on Southwest 8th Street and Brickell Avenue where Miami Fire was setting up a triage, Coast Guard officials said.

Due to budget cuts and staffing shortages, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue boats were docked this year during the Columbus Day weekend celebrations in Key Biscayne.

While Fire Rescue was available for on-land assistance, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission took care of patrolling the waters for injuries and officials said they were more watchful than ever.

No Columbus Day Partying in Biscayne National Park
"Every year we see the same thing," said Jorge Pino with the FWC. "We see individuals that like to go out and have a good time and they do it in a respectful way without any issues, but then again you also have those individuals who go out there and they don't do it the right way."

In the last 10 years, six people have died during the Columbus Day celebrations and others have suffered from lacerations, broken bones, crush injuries, alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses. Miami-Dade County is considering selling the docked Fire Rescue boats.

While national parks like Biscayne National Park were closed due to the government shutdown, the FWC said it would patrol those areas as well.

"We are prepared to go anywhere whether it be inside Biscayne National Park or in northern Miami-Dade County -- we're ready," Pino said.

Many out on the water said they felt safe despite the vast number of boaters.

"We're having a lot of fun over there on the boats," said boater Fernando Portillo. "There's a lot of police taking care of us."

NBC 6, Miami

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