COLLIER COUNTY, Fla - A Naples diver speaks only to WINK about the three hours she was lost in the Gulf and the rescue that brought her to safety.
Cindy Tutino was exploring the "Cuban Wreck" near Gordon Pass off Keewaydin Island when she got separated from her boat.
The good news is that Cindy is home and doing well. The veteran diver went for what she calls a very safe dive, but when she came up to the surface, she realized she was stranded in the Gulf.
Cindy says, "I had all the right gear, it just happens, you just drift away."
Tutino has been diving for 30 years, but Friday a routine afternoon turned into a frantic search.
"I was just diving by the wreck and came up and the boat drifted and I drifted away from the boat," says Cindy. "The waves started picking up and so we kind of got away from each other."
Cindy was diving while her husband and son fished from their boat.
Her son, Douglas says, "after she was gone for 40, 45 minutes, we realized she was gone longer than she should have been."
"I was trying to swim towards the boat but I kept drifting further and further away so I thought, I better start swimming towards shore, so I swam for about three hours," says Cindy.
The Coast Guard, Naples Police, Naples Fire and the Collier County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit all started searching the waters, but a civilian boat found her two miles form the search location.
"I wasn't scared," says Cindy. "I knew I was going to be okay, I was more worried about what my husband and son were thinking because they were thinking that I was still down on the wreck, so that was the worst part."
"I was just really happy because at the time, we saw sharks swimming everywhere we were fishing too," says Douglas. "We were just really happy."
Cindy was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure, but tells WINK News she feels great. She plans to be back out in the water Saturday.
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