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It was supposed to be a fun family boating trip for Matthew Esmacher and his two daughters from Virginia. They left Fort Lauderdale on Thursday morning to get to Bimini. A graduation present for one of their daughters.
They didn't make it very far. Just 20 minutes into their trip, one of the engines suddenly shut down. The family decided to turn around but then their second engine failed as well.
"We started to see water in the boat and that's when I got nervous and we called in mayday," Esmacher said.
Anne Spruit and her husband heard that call on their boat. When they got to the Esmachers, they were trying to help the family as quickly as possible.
"We tied the boat to our boat to tow it," Spruit said. "Then we realized the boat was taking on water."
The boat was sinking quickly.
"The stern began to go," Spruit said. "The bow of course came up, they jumped off and were able to float on some of the cushions."
Within 15 minutes, the boat had sunk.
"My daughters, I just screamed at them to get out of the boat," Esmacher said.
One of the ropes on the boat had wrapped around Esmacher's ankle and was starting to pull him down.
"It was extremely scary and I was thinking maybe this is it right here," Esmacher said. "But God had a better plan in mind for me. I lost a shoe, but I was much happier to gain my life."
Spruit said as they were helping the family out of the water one by one, they were worried the boat might tip and fall on them.
"For a minute we couldn't see any people and it was frightening," Spruit said.
Even scarier for the wife of Matthew Esmacher, who was on a different boat.
"For a moment she could only see two of us and thought one of our daughters had drowned," Esmacher said.
Luckily everyone made it back to shore and although the Esmacher family is still in shock, they're just grateful to be alive.
"It's one of the scariest things I've ever experienced in my life," Esmacher said.
Esmacher has been boating all his life and he said his family is already planning the next boating adventure.
"Next time we'll need a bigger boat," Esmacher said.
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