For thirty three days, two men and a woman survived on rugged Anguilla Cay, a deserted island in the Bahamas, just to the south and east of Florida. They sustained themselves on rats, conch meat, and coconut, and little else. The atoll, part of an archipelago known as the Salt Cays historically or Cay Sal Bank today, has no fresh water, so those coconuts were particularly important.
On Monday, February 8, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter patrol spotted the castaways’ distress signals; a large cross made of debris on the beach and several handmade flags. Due to weather, they weren’t able to land, but dropped off food, water, and a radio. The next morning, a rescue helicopter returned to pick up all three, who were largely healthy but dehydrated.
“That is pretty extraordinary. It was incredible,” said Lieutenant Justin Dougherty of the U.S. Coast Guard to reporters. “I don’t know how they did it. I am amazed that they were in such good shape.”
“USCG rescued the 3 Cuban nationals stranded on Anguilla Cay,” tweeted the offical Coast Guard account that day. “A helicopter crew transferred the 2 men & 1 woman to Lower Keys Medical Center (in Florida) with no reported injuries. More details to follow.”
The ‘more details,’ is the real sticking point, however. Despite Coast Guard officials reporting that the unidentified trio could be either unsuccessful migrants or unlucky fisherman, with no evidence either way, and despite the fact that they were brought into the U.S. under emergency conditions by our own military, ICE arrested all three from the hospital. They are currently being detained in an ICE facility in Pompano Beach, Florida. ICE has not responded to requests for information from news sources. “I cannot recall a time that we saved people who were stranded for over a month on an island,” said USCG Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Murray about the three. He called their rescue a miracle.