2 missing boaters found alive in Galveston Bay, Coast Guard says

The Coast Guard said two missing boaters were found alive Wednesday in Galveston Bay after spending nearly 48 hours clinging to pipes and an oil platform.


Michael Watkins, 51, and Raymond Jacik were reported missing after they were last seen Monday aboard a white and red 20-foot Larson boat with a blue top.

The boaters left the Bayshore Park boatramp at 7 a.m. Monday and were expected to return around 1 p.m. Monday. Family members contacted the Galveston County Sheriff's Office Tuesday morning, after the men had not returned.

Galveston County sheriff's deputies located the truck and trailer at the boatramp Tuesday morning.

Coast Guard officials said the two men have been in the water since Monday when their boat capsized. 


Jacik grabbed onto a cooler to stay afloat. He was able to make his way to an oil rig, where he was found Wednesday.

About a half mile away on a different oil rig, Watkins was found. Neither man knew the other one was alive.

A rescue helicopter was called to take the men to Ellington Field, and they were taken to area hospitals.


KPRC 2 interview Jacik in the hospital. He's dehydrated, sunburned and nauseous.

He said God, rope and an ice cooler helped him survive. He said the overnight storms Wednesday were brutal as he tried to hold onto a collection of broken pipes.

"After last night, I had a long talk with God," he said. "You get out there, the middle of the night, holding onto a pipe that feels like it's full of nails, or razor blades, and don't know how long you're going to be bear-hugging that thing."

Michael Watkins

He said he probably wouldn't have lasted another night.

Watkins' wife told KPRC 2 he is a little dehydrated, but doing well. Bay Area Regional Hospital said Watkins is in good condition and a full recovery is expected. 

Watkins released a statement that read: "I am thankful to be back on solid ground and with my family. I am forever thankful for the Coast Guard, EMS and Bay Area Regional for their role in my rescue and recovery. I request privacy for my family and I during this time."

Raymond Jacik

Friends of the two missing boaters gathered Wednesday afternoon at the American Legion in San Leon to celebrate their rescue.  Many of the fishermen said they set out on their own boats to search for their friends after they were reported missing. 

“We thought we were going to find bodies, we're not going to find people,” said David Dunford.

Crews aboard Station Houston and Station Galveston 29-foot response boats and aircrews aboard an Air Station Houston MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and an Air Station Corpus Christi HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane searched the area since 10 a.m. Tuesday.


2016 Click2Houston/KPRC2