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911 call from life raft brings rescue

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 24, 2001

TAMPA -- Tampa police rescued a family of five, including two children ages 5 and 7, from the water off Picnic Island on Friday night after their boat began to sink.

Sean and Mary Ann Kinsman of Tampa, their sons Vannon and Connor and the boys' uncle, Russell Charles, climbed into a life raft after their johnboat started to take on water about 9:30 p.m., said Mary Ann Kinsman. They used a cell phone to call 911 from the raft.

Cpl. Thomas Beury, among the first officers to arrive at the Picnic Island boat ramp, said he and other officers commandeered a 19-foot fishing boat belonging to three men from St. Petersburg and headed out to find the raft.

Officers carried the two boys, shivering and wrapped in towels, off the boat and into a waiting ambulance. Although wet and cold, nobody in the family was injured. Kinsman, 30, said the family intended to camp out that night on one of the islands in the bay. It was the boys' first trip out in the boat, she said.

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