“That’s God,” said the boy’s family when they found him clinging to a makeshift raft in the water.

Dylan Gartenmayer has been in the water for most of his 22 years, even before he was born. His family has lived in Key West for many generations, and swimming, diving, and fishing are like breathing to them.

Tabitha Gartenmayer, Dylan’s mother, said he tried spearfishing for the first time when she was pregnant.

She told WTVJ, “As people who grew up in Key West, we love the ocean.” “Dylan was inside me when I was spearfishing.”

Dylan said, “I like to go over 100 feet on a single breath because I do a lot of deep free diving.”

The family knows how powerful the ocean can be, but the fact that they are used to it saved Dylan on Thursday when he was diving with some friends.

Dylan and two friends were out on the water when they noticed that things were getting dangerous. They decided to go for one more dive before going home, but that’s when things went wrong.

The 22-year-old man was free diving at about 35 feet when he was picked up by the Gulf Stream current and carried a mile away. He was pushed along underwater for two minutes while he had to hold his breath.

“There was a lot of bait floating around me and everything else,” he said. “I knew that, you know, big fish were eating those baits and that sharks would be close behind. I was ready to fight all night, but I’m glad it didn’t come to that.

“And that’s how I ended up on my own… They mostly looked down because they thought I had passed out from lack of oxygen.

When he came up to the surface, he saw a channel marker a mile away, so he swam to it. Along the way, he saw floating bamboo and grabbed it to help him stay afloat.

His friends called his family when he didn’t come back up, and the coast guard, his family, and other ocean-going friends worked quickly to find him.

“And then my ex-husband calls,” Tabitha said. “Tab, Dylan isn’t acting right. Since an hour ago, they haven’t seen him.’ And from that moment on, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. It was just like this. I was speechless.”

Dylan had found and linked three buoys to keep himself afloat, but no one who was looking knew about it.

“I got a terrible phone call yesterday that Dyl had gone diving and hadn’t been seen for two hours!” Priscilla Gartenmayer posted on Facebook. She said she was Dylan’s cousin. “After gathering the family, we got on the contender and took the scariest boat ride out to where he was last seen.”

Dylan could see people coming to help him from his makeshift raft.

“I could see the coast guard way off to the west of me,” he said. “Their blue lights were… the helicopters flying around in a grid pattern… My bamboo began to move away from me.”

Dylan was seen by a friend on the family’s boat, Joel Cruz, as the sun went down. When everyone saw that he was still alive, they all started screaming.

“God was definitely on our side because as soon as we stopped running and started looking. We found him right away, almost at the coordinates we were given,” Priscilla’s post said.

“He’s the smartest and most experienced diver I know on the water. He swam about two miles, and before running out of energy, he grabbed three buoys and made a hammock to float on!”


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