A boater found 2 bodies in the ocean off the Florida Keys. It’s a mystery with some clues

David Goodhue
Tue, August 16, 2022 at 1:36 PM

Florida Keys detectives are investigating the discovery of two bodies found floating in the ocean off the island chain.

A boater recovered the bodies around 1:30 p.m. Friday about a mile and a half apart from each other roughly 11 miles from Molasses Reef off Key Largo, said Monroe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Adam Linhardt.

The boater called the U.S. Coast Guard, which brought the bodies back to its station in the Village of Islamorada, Linhardt said.

It’s not immediately known if the men were part of a group of 15 people, migrants from Cuba, whose boat capsized 14 miles south of Sugarloaf Key in the Lower Keys Friday, Aug. 5. Two people from that group were confirmed dead, and eight were rescued.

But Coast Guard crews never found the other five people from that journey.

Tiffany Fridley, director of operations for the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office, said Monday that the morgue has the bodies of four migrants “that were recovered within federal/international waters.” She said two of the bodies came in Aug. 5 and two more on Aug. 12, which was last Friday.

“They were reported to us as migrants,” Fridley said.

Neither the Coast Guard nor the sheriff’s office would confirm if the bodies found Friday are those of possible migrants.

“The matter remains under investigation,” Linhardt said.

The Keys have been the epicenter of a recent migrant crisis with people from both Cuba and Haiti fleeing their countries in numbers not seen in several years.

Over the weekend, Border Patrol agents took into custody 187 people from Cuba who arrived in various parts of the Keys, including a group of 51 people who landed at the Southernmost Buoy in the city of Key West early Sunday morning.

A wooden fishing boat is beached on an island in the Marquesas, located about 20 miles west of Key West, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022. The Border Patrol says 22 Cuban migrants were on board the boat.

Adam Hoffner, division chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Miami operations, said more than 90 Cuban migrants have arrived in the Keys between Monday and Tuesday.

These include a group of 16 people who landed in near Truman Annex in Key West, and 22 people who arrived in a wooden fishing boat in the Marquesas, a group of islands about 20 miles west of Key West.

On Monday, there were three landings in different locations throughout the island chain totaling 54 people, Walter Slosar, Border Patrol chief agent for Miami, said in a statement on Twitter.

Last week almost 440 people from Haiti arrived in the Keys in two large landings where people were packed onto overloaded sailboats.

Since Oct. 1, the Coast Guard said it has stopped 3,994 people from Cuba along the Florida Straits trying to reach the United States, and 6,812 people from Haiti.
This developing story will be updated as more information becomes available.