ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- A family and their friends said they are lucky to be alive after their boat flipped over in a dangerous storm in Tampa Bay near Weedon Island.
"It was the waves. Yeah, the waves, and we were in shallow water," said Jared Lyons and his girlfriend, Brittany Whitten.
It was Whitten's first fishing trip. The big waves and pounding rain didn't scare them initially.
"We were sitting here with five gallon buckets just dumping it all out," said Lyons. "It was coming in faster than we could take it out."
That's when the boat flipped over and all six boaters found themselves underwater without life jackets.
Lyons, his best friend Harrison Orion Mettling, and Whitten tried swimming to shore for help, while the other three family members stayed with the boat.
"It was scary!" said Whitten. "I didn't know what to think except just keep pushing forward. The boat just flipped over and we couldn't get to any of it without the boat like sucking us underneath."
Mettling got a huge bump on his head before he was able to try swimming to shore for help. He is counting his blessings.
"When the boat flipped over it hit me in the head," said Metting. "I was seeing stars. I couldn't figure out where up was. After a few seconds I got my bearings and got back up to the surface."
Metting has five years as a lifeguard and said that kept him swimming for almost two miles to shore.
"When I hit one of the canals it got pretty deep and the water started pulling me out."
He made it safely to shore, along with the other three, even though they ended up in two different places.
Tampa Police Marine Units, Tampa Fire Rescue, St. Petersburg Fire Rescue, Eckerd College Water Rescue, Florida Wildlife Enforcement Unit, and TPD's Aviation Unit went in after the family members who stayed with the boat. All of their personal items were lost.
"All our stuff, our phones, our wallets, everything," said Lyons.
But that didn't matter; they were alive and together. Whitten also said it would be her first and last fishing trip.
"We were very lucky," said Mettling.
Tampa Fire Rescue said it had three calls all within one hour after Sunday night's storm.
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