See the unbelievable moment when a Key West family found their missing son at sea

The family’s sea rescue effort to save a crew member who has been missing for hours has gone viral, involving TikTok users.

Three days ago, Priscilla Gartenmeier posted a video on TikTok of the moment her family found her missing cousin, 22-year-old Dylan Gartenmeier, floating in a makeshift raft.

In the clip, Gartenmayer’s family burst into cheers and tears when they realized they had finally found Dylan, who went missing hours earlier while freediving on Jan. 19.

Talk to NBC Affiliates WTVJMorethe family says Dylan has been missing for nearly three hours.

Dylan says he can dive to depths of over 100 feet on a single breath while freediving underwater without the aid of breathing apparatus like scuba equipment. Her two friends who were on the boat with Dylan decided to go back because the weather changed suddenly. Still, he succumbs to the temptation to make one more splash, and as Dylan puts it, “that’s where it all started.”

Dylan was freediving at almost 35 feet when the Gulf Current pulled him out of about 150 feet of water. For about two minutes, he held his breath and stayed underwater, Dylan says.

“That’s how I ended up separating,” he explained. “…they were mostly looking down and thought I passed out from lack of oxygen.”

When he resurfaced, Dylan says he found he was nearly a mile from his original dive spot and swam over a mile to reach the channel marker.

“There was a lot of bait floating around me,” Dylan said. “I knew there was a big fish eating those baits and a shark right behind them.

At the same time, his family, who had lived and spearfished in the Key West area for generations, had already started looking for him.

Dylan’s mother, Tabitha Gartenmeier, learned by phone that he was missing.

“And then I got a call from my ex-husband,” Tabitha said. “Tab, there’s something wrong with Dylan. They haven’t seen him in an hour. And from that moment on, this feeling hit me, I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t speak.”

Immediately, she began a mission to find Dylan. Surveillance video from her neighbor shows the moment the Gartenmeiers rushed down the canal and out to sea in search of their son.

“[Tabitha]was insistent on getting the boat down now,” Jamie Cook, a friend of the Gartenmeiers, explained to WTVJ.

By then, the U.S. Coast Guard was deep in its search for Dylan and had dispatched helicopters and boats to rescue him, so Gartenmeyer’s crew chose to head to where he was last seen. Did.

Eventually, Dylan’s friend Joel found a makeshift raft of mooring balls strung together.

By then, Dylan had seen in the distance the Coast Guard conducting a grid pattern search to find him and heard the sound of an approaching boat behind him.

Another TikTok video of Dylan’s cousin Priscilla captures the moment a boat (with his family and friends on board) approaches him and puts him on board.

“My mother took my diving gear,” recalls Dylan. “She started hugging and crying.”

According to Priscilla’s TikTok, shortly after her family pulled Dylan out of the water, the Coast Guard took him to the station to check his vitals.

“It was really moving for me,” Priscilla said after seeing him on board. “So we know how lucky Dylan is to be here.”

Lt. Col. Elizabeth Tatum, search and rescue mission coordinator for Sector Key West, commented on NBC News about Dylan’s rescue.

“The Coast Guard is grateful to know that Mr. Gartenmeyer was found safe,” she said. Thanks to the coordinated search efforts of the United States, the case has had a positive outcome.Many cases of missing divers do not have a positive outcome, and the circumstances of this case predicted it. No. The sunset, weather conditions and Dylan’s outfit played against us in this case, but his foresight in lashing the mooring balls together for a larger target in the water was wise. was.”

Tatum added that the most important piece of advice they could offer the public was that the SAR system worked as intended.

“Broadcast emergency maritime information broadcasts to inform the public that an emergency exists,” she added. “As long as people are rescued, CG doesn’t care who rescues them.”

The relief that Dylan survived then spilled over to TikTok, with users praising the family’s quick and speedy recovery.

“This unremarkable story made me cry lol,” wrote one user. “If you were lost alone at sea, imagine your family screaming your name to get you back up.”

“This is what real families do!!!!!” another commented. “I love it.”

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