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A Micanopy man was evacuated from a burning 26-foot boat about 15 miles west of Cedar Key by the Coast Guard on Saturday and brought to George Lewis Airport for treatment, according to information provided by the agency and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Clifford Burnham, 49, had been in the water for about an hour, clinging to the cowling of an outboard motor on his 26-foot boat, when the Coast Guard arrived in response to a radio call.
Burnham said he was having heart palpitations so the Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter to pick him up, said an FWC spokesman.
He was brought to the airport in Cedar Key where he was met by FWC officers and a unit from the Levy County Emergency Medical Service and checked. Burnham said he was feeling better and was released.
The call received by Coast Guard watchstanders at St. Petersburg at 5:51 p.m. reported the boat had mechanical problems with an outboard engines. Another man aboard the boat went into the water to identify and repair the engine and began to drift away from the boat.
An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater was dispatched. arrived on scene, hoisted the man and transported him.
"Having a marine band radio aboard their boat greatly aided the Coast Guard in responding quickly," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Diaz. "We were able to receive the call, have a Jayhawk on scene and retrieved him before the situation deteriorated."
No injuries were reported. The disabled boat was later towed into port, according to the FWC.