TARPON SPRINGS - Eight people were rescued by Coast Guard boat and aircrews near Anclote Key early Friday morning.
At midnight, watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, received a report of an unstable raft with four people aboard, approximately one mile northeast of Anclote Key. A boat crew from Coast Guard Station at Sand Key and a helicopter rescue crew were launched to respond to the report.
At around 12:50 a.m. Sector St. Petersburg watchstanders received a call from Pasco County dispatch reporting three people stranded on the Anclote Key beach with the water rising. Due to dense vegetation, the people on the island were unable to get to higher ground. They were reported to be from the same party as those in the raft.
The Station Sand Key boat crew arrived on scene with the raft at approximately 2 a.m. and safely embarked four people from the vessel and a fifth person who was on scene in a kayak, according to a news release from the Coast Guard.
The helicopter rescue crew, who was in the vicinity, located the three people on Anclote Key, hoisted them to safety, and transported them to Clearwater Airport.
Of the eight people rescued, only one had a working cell phone, and no one was wearing a lifejacket.
"When you are on an unstable craft, such as a raft or kayak, it is important to always have a lifejacket on," said Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Bonneau, situation unit controller at Sector St. Petersburg. "You don't want to end up in the water without one. It is a matter of life or death."
There were no reports of any injuries.
Anclote Key Preserve State Park, located three miles off Tarpon Springs, is accessible only by boat.