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‘Needle in a Haystack’; Viral TikTok captures missing Key West diver rescued by family after being swept into Gulf

(KEY WEST, FLA) — A 21-year-old experienced diver who was swept into the Gulf Stream was miraculously rescued by his family.

A viral TikTok racking 30 million views and 4.2 million likes captured the hair-raising moment Dylan Gartenmayer was pulled out of shark-infested waters by family members two hours after being informed by the US Coast Guard, according to NBC 6.


So thankful 💙 #lostatsea #rescue #keywest #freedive #drifting #florida

♬ original sound – Priscilla Gartenmayer

Gartenmayer, who began diving at just 11-years-old, was free-diving near a reef in Key West on Thursday when a strong current pulled him 150 feet under the surface, taking him a mile away from his boat.

The diver sought refuge on a bamboo stick and buoys, crafting a raft to stay afloat.

“I’d just seen a reef shark swam past me,” Gartenmayer said in a video uploaded to social media. “I had a bunch of bait start blowing up around, I could see mackerel skyrocketing.”

Coast Guard sent authorities for a search and rescue operation involving aircraft and boats, but the diver said a plane merely brushed over and couldn’t spot him.

“Shortly after that the sun had disappeared past the horizon,” he said. “Looking to the east it was pitch black, looking to the west you could see the remnants of the sunset. As I saw the sun disappear I knew things were starting to get a little more dire.”

After receiving the chilling call from Coast Guard, his family members led a frantic rescue mission, and captured the ‘needle-in-a-haystack’ discovery on video.


Replying to @yari43770 We’ve lived in key west for many generations and we have fallen family members who we let to rest at sea and we really feel like the protected him ❤️ look at that smile!

♬ original sound – Priscilla Gartenmayer

Gartenmayer was found clinging to the buoys, and immediately scooped to safety on the boat.

Shortly after the rescue, Coast Guard checked the diver’s vitals, finding a low core temperature, but was safely returnned home after he was stabilized.