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Crews rescue two people knocked off jet ski during thunderstorm

Woman left drifting without life jacket for hours
Posted: 11:29 PM, Jul 12, 2017
Updated: 2017-07-12 23:49:28-04

Several agencies searched for a missing woman who fell from a jet ski Wednesday off the north side of the Courtney Campbell Causeway. 

According to Clearwater Fire & Rescue, the call came in around 6:50 p.m. The initial search was for two women who had been knocked off a jet ski during a thunderstorm over the waters of Old Tampa Bay. 

Laura Labruna and Dena Seacord found themselves trapped in the bay and fighting to survive. 

"We pressed it to go and flew off and right then and there I started praying to God," said Seacord. 

The strong storm rolled in over the bay packing high winds that knocked the two into the choppy water. 

 "I couldn't breath because waves were going into my lungs, I was just breathing in water and it was just so bad," said Labruna. 

"I started swimming back to where we came from and she was right behind me and then all of a sudden I didn't hear her calling my name anymore so I honestly thought she died," said Seacord. 

A friend who was also out jet skiing Wednesday knew something went wrong when the two didn't show back up after the ride. 

"I don't know how, but I saw her like 2 miles or 3 miles away, I could just see her fingers and like her hands just waving back and forth," said Nohemy Aguila. 

Seacord, who was wearing a life jacket, managed to stay near the jet ski. Labruna told ABC Action News, she started to drift away. 

"I was freaking out, I was surprised I was alive," said Labruna. "I really thought I was going to die."

Clearwater Fire & Rescue says a marine unit stationed at St. Petersburg Clearwater Airport located the 23-year-old drifting more than a mile away and treading water without a life jacket. 

"I would never do anything that needs a life jacket ever again," Labruna joked from the boat ramp. 

Tampa Fire Rescue, Tampa Police, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and St. Petersburg Clearwater Airport Fire rescue all participated in the search.