A split-second decision to jump or not jump over a span of angry sea — that was the choice faced by four fishermen last winter during a dramatic night rescue off Port Everglades Inlet.

Two men made the leap and lived. A third faltered, fell and was caught between two vessels, the fishing boat and the Coast Guard boat that came to the rescue.

The episode left the fallen fisherman, Union "Ted" Bethell, permanently maimed, and now he's launched a federal lawsuit against the Coast Guard crew that dared stormy seas to rescue him. It also illustrates how violent the sea just offshore South Florida can be, and how unforgiving nature can thwart the best intentions.

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