TAMPA, FL -- Nick Schuyler, the man who was rescued Monday after the boat he was riding on flipped in the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend, is a personal trainer at an LA Fitness in Lutz, FL.
Three other men on the boat with Schuyler, two of whom are NFL football players, are still missing. All three are members of LA Fitness, says Jim English, the club’s general manager.
English says he’s happy that Schuyler (pronounced SKY-ler) was rescued but remains worried about the men who are still missing—Marquis Cooper of the Oakland Raiders, Corey Smith, previously of the Detroit Lions, and former University of South Florida football player William Bleakley.
“We’re all very happy that Nick is alive and well,” English said today in an interview with Club Industry’s Fitness Business Pro. “It’s kind of a Catch-22 for us. On the other side, we’re very sad about the possible outcome of the other three members and friends of mine and of the club. They work out here five, six, seven days a week sometimes, and all of them work out together.”
According to media reports, the four men left Clearwater Pass in Florida early Saturday morning in calm weather, but heavy winds picked up through the day and the seas became rough with waves of 7 feet and higher, peaking at 15 feet on Sunday. A relative of one of the four men alerted the Coast Guard early Sunday after the men did not return as expected. The Coast Guard said it did not receive a distress signal.
Around noon on Monday, the Coast Guard rescued Schuyler after one of its crew spotted him clinging to the hull of the boat, about 35 miles off Clearwater Pass. Schuyler, who was conscious yet weak when he was loaded onto a stretcher, told interviewers that all four men were pulling up the anchor Saturday evening when the boat capsized and that all four swam under the boat to recover their life vests, according to media reports. Schuyler told the Coast Guard that Cooper, Smith and Bleakley were separated from the boat about 2 p.m. Sunday. It is unclear how they got separated.
“[Nick’s] reasons for survival were his being in top physical shape,” English says. “All of them were in top physical shape. I just think that Nick was just the one that was chosen at this point in time. He was very blessed to survive this at this point. You have to wonder what was going through his mind and what did he actually witness and see. I’m sure he saw his friends disappear. I just couldn’t imagine that feeling and those emotions that he’s going to have to deal with going forward.”
The Coast Guard called off the search for Cooper, Smith and Bleakley at sundown today. Bruce Cooper, the father of Marquis Cooper, said earlier today that he still had hope, but that the Coast Guard told families privately that officials were not optimistic because of the time frame and possibility of hypothermia, according to media reports.
About two weeks ago, the four men had been fishing near the same spot where the boat capsized, English says.
“They were excited about going back out on the trip again,” English says. “In fact, I had a couple of other trainers that were going to go out there with them. Fortunately for them, they didn’t go.”
Several professional athletes are members of the LA Fitness club, English says. Just last Friday, Cooper spent time talking to a high school football player at the club who wanted to learn the best exercises for speed and agility, English says.
“He gave the kid a good 20 to 30 minutes of his time,” English says.
Schuyler, who also played football at the University of South Florida, has been a personal trainer at LA Fitness since the club opened in June 2007, English says.
“The thing that stands out with me about Nick is that he’s very attentive with all of his clients, very personable,” English says. “He has a very good work ethic. You can always count on him. Mentally, he will get through this. He’s a tough kid.”