FAU student, friend drift offshore while paddleboarding

Sophomore Natasha Noguera and friend Haley Carpiniello maintain a positive attitude after sharing a dangerous experience while paddleboarding.

Haley+Carpiniello+%28left%29+and+Natasha+Noguera+on+their+trip+from+Coral+Springs+to+Lauderdale-by-the-sea+on+Friday%2C+July+24th.+Photo+courtesy+of+Haley+Carpinello

Haley Carpiniello (left) and Natasha Noguera on their trip from Coral Springs to Lauderdale-by-the-sea on Friday, July 24th. Photo courtesy of Haley Carpinello

Emily Creighton, Features Editor

On Friday, three miles off the shore of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, 19-year-old Florida Atlantic student Natasha Noguera and her friend Haley Carpiniello were left stranded on paddleboards while stormy skies and strong winds closed in on them.

“I couldn’t see the sand anymore,” recalled Noguera, a sophomore neuroscience and behavior major. “I could see the buildings and maybe the trees, but I couldn’t see the sand anymore.”

Wanting to try “something different” while on summer break from school, the longtime friends decided to go paddleboarding. Carpiniello, a student at Miami’s Johnson and Wales University, said, “[The rental company employees] told us that the water was great.”

After about an hour in the water, the wind from an oncoming afternoon storm took control of the boards away from the minimally experienced girls – it was Noguera’s first time paddleboarding, and only Carpiniello’s third.

Noguera explained, “Haley saw the storm and then I remember looking back at her and saying the wind was too strong.”

The Coral Springs natives still did not fully comprehend the potential danger. “We were just thinking we were gonna go back in and nobody would know,” said Noguera.

But after more time, they realized that they were not going to be able to get back to shore without help.

Noguera, who had her phone in a waterproof case on hand, said, “Hayley kept yelling at me to call the company, but I wanted to wait until she got to me, so we could tie the ankle bracelets on the board together. It would be better if we were together than apart.”

After tying their boards together, Noguera contacted the rental company for help. The girls later found out that there was also a female witness who called 911 as the girls were getting dragged farther out.

The Sun Sentinel reported that the Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Volunteer Fire Department received an emergency call about the stranded girls at approximately 3:35 p.m. A jet ski with a raft was immediately sent to retrieve the pair.

With the knowledge of help on the way, the girls felt a sense of comfort and tried to stay positive during the wait.

“If you’re in deep enough water, the first thing that comes to mind is sharks,” shared Noguera. “We tried not to even think of those things while we were out there; we tried to stay positive.”

The girls kept themselves distracted, in disbelief at the situation unfolding. “We were laughing in shock,” said Carpiniello.

Noguera added, “We thought, ‘Is this really happening?’ We didn’t know what else to do, but laugh.”

About thirty minutes later, the firefighters coming for them were in sight. “The first thing Haley said [when she saw the jet ski] was, ‘Why is there only one jet ski?’” recalled Noguera, still laughing about the event.

Carpiniello rode on the jet ski while Noguera stayed on the raft on their return to shore. The length of the journey back made the girls realize just how far out they were. Carpiniello remembers being told that their rescue was the farthest a jet ski had been sent out in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

After getting checked by medical personnel, the girls were deemed unscathed. They headed back home around 4:30 p.m.

“I didn’t tell my mom until I got home, and I wasn’t gonna tell her,” said Noguera. “Then Channel 7 News called and said, ‘Can we do an interview?’ At first, [my mom] was like, ‘How could you be so irresponsible?’ But, when the news broadcast came on she was laughing about it afterwards.”

As for if the two would go paddleboarding again, Noguera said, “Yeah, we would go paddleboarding again, maybe not in the open.”

Carpiniello added, “Next time we’ll stick to kayaking, maybe a couple feet from shore.”

Emily Creighton is the Features editor for the University Press. To contact her regarding this or other articles, email her at [email protected]