A boat captain came to the rescue of a group of fishermen discovered clinging to the upturned hull of their sinking boat in waters off South Sound.
The stricken vessel was located after a police helicopter crew responded to an emergency call on Saturday night.
The air crew used its searchlight to locate the boat and alert a nearby vessel to assist.
Nelson Villalobos, who was out fishing nearby with his friend, followed the helicopter’s lights to locate the five men and pull them on board and to safety.
He said, “The boat was completely capsized. Everything was in the water. Two of the guys were on top of the boat and two were clinging to the sides. The other guy was just in the water swimming. They were all being swept to shore.”
A police spokeswoman said the helicopter crew had used its lights and thermal imaging system to find the stricken vessel and used the helicopter’s loudspeaker to alert Mr. Villalobos to the emergency.
“I was fishing about half a mile away,” said the boat captain. “I had seen them when I came out earlier. Later on, I heard them making some noise and I didn’t think anything of it, I thought they were just having fun.”
He said it was just before 8 p.m. and too dark to see the action on the other boat.
“When I saw the chopper with its lights on, I knew something wasn’t right. I followed the lights of the chopper and saw the other guys had capsized.”
None of the men in the water, all Filipinos according to Mr. Villalobos, were injured, but the vessel sunk shortly afterward.
“This was a superb example of the police and community working together in an emergency situation to save lives,” said Steve Fitzgerald, executive officer of the Air Operations Unit. “I would like to thank Mr. Villalobos and his crewmate for their quick response and the use of their boat in this instance.”
Mr. Villalobos, an electrician originally from Costa Rica and a permanent resident in Cayman, said he was happy to help.
“They were very scared,” he said. “I would have been scared too. I was very glad that they were not hurt. I’m happy for them.”
He said he was told the boat had capsized after losing its anchor and then losing its throttle.