The emotional moment a missing freediver’s family spotted their loved one alive in the water before being reunited with him has gone viral after being caught on camera.
Dylan Gartenmayer, 22, had not been seen for several hours after being swept along under the Florida waves by a strong current and resurfacing around a mile away.
Video shot on a boat packed with his family and friends, shows them spotting Mr Gartenmayer in the water, with one person exclaiming “there he is!”, while a second shouts “Dylan”, before others start screaming and jumping up and down with joy.
A second clip, also filmed by his cousin Priscilla Gartenmayer, shows people stretching out their arms to try to catch him as he is taken along at speed by the waves.
And then seconds later he is able to make his way to the back of the boat, and to safety, where he is hugged.
The videos have now gone viral with millions of views on TikTok.
Before he went missing, two of his friends had been keeping watch on a boat at the original site where he dived, which was by a reef, several miles from the Florida Keys.
Below the surface, Mr Gartenmayer was freediving at a depth of about 35ft, when the current pushed him down to 150ft.
He said he was underwater for almost two minutes, as he held his breath.
“So that’s how I ended up getting separated,” he said. “They were mainly looking down, thinking I blacked out from a lack of oxygen.”
‘Scariest boat ride of our life’
The alarm was raised and his family then went out on his grandfather’s boat looking for him – described as “the scariest ride of our life” – and were assisted in their search by the coastguard.
Mr Gartenmayer told the US news channel NBC6 that after he resurfaced he swam just over a mile to a channel marker, while clutching bamboo which he found in the water.
His mother, Tabitha, said that during the family’s search, her son’s friend Joel spotted an unusual sight on the water – buoys that seemed to be tied together.
Mr Gartenmayer had cut and bound together mooring balls to make a makeshift raft. He said he “ended up cutting three of those from reef, tying up a little hammock”.
Shortly after seeing the buoys, he was spotted.
“I could hear a boat humming up behind me,” said the 22-year-old. The vessel he heard heading towards him was packed with his family members.
Once on board he was transferred on to a coastguard boat and taken ashore. His body temperature was low at first but once it stabilised he was then released just an hour later.
‘The smartest, most experienced diver I know’
His cousin, Priscilla Gartenmayer, recounted what happened on Facebook.
She wrote: “After calling the fam together we hopped on the contender and had the scariest boat ride of our life out to his last-known coordinates.
“God was definitely on our side because as soon as we stopped running out and started looking, we spotted him right away at almost the exact coordinates we were given.”
He added: “That second video was the moment we all laid eyes on him, I can’t stop watching it.
“He’s the smartest, most experienced diver I know on the water, he swam about two miles and before he lost his energy he grabbed three buoys and made a hammock for himself to float on!”