He was using a makeshit raft to keep himself afloat when his family spotted him in open sea.
We all love movies that involve sea rescues and people struggling to save their loved ones in the middle of the ocean. However, it is not about a movie plot but about a family, whose rescue mission is to save their crew member that is going viral all over the internet. Priscilla Gartenmayer posted a video on TikTok of the moment her family discovered her missing cousin, 22-year-old Dylan Gartenmayer, floating on a makeshift raft, per TODAY.
Dylan had gone missing for over three hours while free diving and the family had gone on to find him on January 19. In the video, Gartenmayer's family members cry and shout as they realize they have located Dylan. Dylan claims he can free dive more than 100 feet deep on a single breath without needing a breathing device, such as scuba gear. Dylan and the two guys he had been on the boat with opted to return as the weather worsened. Nonetheless, the need to add one more splash won out and everything went downhill. Dylan was on a free dive at about 35 feet when the Gulf Stream current took him out of waters 150 feet deep. Dylan claims he remained underwater for almost two minutes, holding his breath.
He said, "So that's how I ended up getting separated. They were mainly looking down, thinking I blacked out from a lack of oxygen." Dylan claims that when he resurfaced, he discovered that he was about a mile away from his initial diving location and had to swim more than a mile to reach a channel marker. He told WVTJ, "I had a bunch of bait floating up around me and everything. I knew that there were big fish eating those baits and there were sharks that were going to be shortly behind them. I was ready to fight the night out, but I'm glad I didn't have to."
Simultaneously, his family, who had lived and spearfished in the Key West area for generations, had set out to find him. Dylan's mother, Tabitha Gartenmayer, found out about his disappearance over the phone. Tabitha explained, "And we get the call from my ex-husband. 'Tab, something's wrong with Dylan. They haven't seen him in an hour.' And from that moment on, this feeling came over me, just like this and I couldn't breathe. I couldn't talk."
Since the US Coast Guard was far into their search for Dylan and had dispatched helicopters and boats to save him, the Gartenmayer crew chose to proceed to the last spot he was seen at. Dylan's friend Joel eventually found his improvised raft of tied-together mooring balls. He had noticed the Coast Guard in the distance, performing a grid-pattern search for him and heard the sound of a boat approaching from behind him.
Dylan's cousin Priscilla's other TikTok videos show the boat approaching him and pulling him on board. Dylan recalled, "My mom took my dive gear. She just started hugging, crying." According to Priscilla's TikTok, the Coast Guard transported Dylan to their station and checked his vitals shortly after her family pulled him from the water. Priscilla said, "That was really emotional for me. So, you know, we know how lucky we are to have so still have Dylan here."