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Family outing turns into disaster for Okaloosa family
OKALOOSA COUNTY -- A family outing turned into a terrifying situation.
Their boat capsized on Choctawhatchee Bay, when a storm rolled in.
Now, the family wants to thank the strangers who saved them.
They told Channel Three's Laura Hussey what happened when their boat started sinking.
Laura Hussey "When the Marchiando family set out for an afternoon of boating Sunday before last, the water was a lot like this, no problems in sight. But an afternoon storm rolled in and things changed in a minute"
Pete Marchiando has been boating his whole life
He says a one-foot swell suddenly whipped into six foot seas.
Pete "Never seen waves build that fast on the bay"
Chris Reed "We're actually kind of surfing the waves where you go up the wave and down into the trough, and at one point, the boat just kept going down into the trough"
Olivia/Age 11 "And that time it kind of flooded in and it was crazy and I just got swooped out of the boat"
Olivia Reed and her family are visiting from Texas.
She's eleven years old.
Olivia "I was thinking about the propeller and how people get hurt really badly by that so I pulled in my legs while I was under"
Her brother Nathan jumped into the water, thinking the boat was going down.
Their father was next.
Chris Reed "These two guys, they fell off the boat and quickly they're 25-30 feet behind the boat, without life preservers"
The rest of the adults jumped in when they realized bailing was useless.
They think a panel behind a refrigerator ripped open, allowing water to swamp the boat.
Trying to shut off the engine, Pete Marchiando barely made it off before the boat capsized.
Pete "At that time the boat was vertical and it turned upright. It was sitting in the water ninety degrees"
A family on a private boat started the rescue almost immediately, but they only had room for six of the eight people in the water.
The fishing boat 'Captain Nemo' rescued the other two.
Pete "We still had four foot seas, maybe more than that, he was really having to work to keep the boat. For somebody with a family on board to stop in those conditions, they need an attaboy"
Laura Hussey "Pete Marchiando says those Good Samaritans can't get enough credit. The Werber family of Niceville, and an Army Ranger named Tom Acosta who was aboard the Captain Nemo."