Fishing crew rescues 2 men found clinging to a cooler after their boat sank

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Sunday morning a welcome case of serendipity for two fishermen stranded off the coast of Virginia Beach. An unlikely source helped them get to shore after a boating accident.

Every weekend dozens of charter fishing boats load up in the Rudee Inlet. Each captain takes his customers out in hopes of the big catch. Sunday morning, on the fishing boat the Matador, things should have gone the same way.

“The charter was awestruck,” Captain Mike Bean said. “They thought we were gonna go catch some dolphins real quick we ended up catching two humans instead.”

Captain Bean and the Matador pushed off the dock sometime after 7:30 in the morning.

“Four miles out we see two things floating,” Captain Bean said. “One was a triangle and one was a square. I told Robert, the mate, we were gonna stop and bail for some dolphin real quick.”

They took the boat closer and found a bigger catch than they expected.

“We got closer to the square thing and two hands started rising up and waving at us,” he said. “It was both guys, one hanging on the sides of a fishing cooler.”

The two fishermen had loaded up for the day and left Rudee Inlet 30 minutes before the matador. But, four miles off shore, their boat started to take on water.

“The boat sank so quick their life jackets floated off,” Captain Bean explained. “One guy had a set of fins on and half a wet suit and the other guy had a pair of shorts and that was it.”

While the two men clung to the side of the cooler, one of them called 911. That’s when the matador came into view.

“We picked the right direction to go today,” Captain Bean said of the rescue effort.

The crew and customers brought the two grateful men on board. The morning that started with a hope for a big catch on the Matador turned into the fish story of a lifetime.

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