U.S. Airmen Rescue Civilians From 12-Foot Shark Circling Capsized Boat

The U.S. Air Force rescued eight civilians after their pontoon boat capsized in Tampa Bay. MacDill Air Force base said Staff Sgt. William Au and his partner, Airman 1st Class Kade Jones found the ship during a routine patrol.

The pair almost didn’t go out on patrol because the U.S. Coast Guard put out a small craft advisory due to rough seas and high waves caused by a tropical storm.

“Under this advisory, the MacDill marine patrol unit wouldn’t normally do their routine sweep, both for their own safety and for the lack of boats in the water,” Air Force officials explained in a news release.

Au said that he had a gut feeling that they needed to go out on patrol.

“We couldn’t even tell you what made us go out there,” said Au. “It was the weirdest thing. We just knew we had to go.”

While out on patrol, Au and Jones noticed a capsized pontoon in the distance. As they got closer, they found eight people treading water as a 10-12 foot bull shark circled the boat.

“They were clinging on to the wreckage,” said Au. “They were terrified.”

They called for assistance and began pulling the civilians out of the water, which was not easy as five-foot waves were battering their boat.

“It was really rough out,” said Airmen 1st Class Samari Rivera-Rodriguez. “The waves were so tall it was hard to see where they were. The waves just kept coming up and down.”

The civilians were transported back to dry land while the Coast Guard began a salvage operation to clean up the wreckage of the pontoon boat. Officials did not provide any information about the condition of the civilians or say what caused their boat to capsize.

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