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Boy Survives, Family Drowns After Boat Capsizes While Fleeing Cuba

August 17, 1994

MIAMI (AP) _ Moments before the boatload of six Cuban refugees overturned, Daniel Prieto Busso’s mother gave the 8-year-old the only life vest aboard.

The boy was the only known survivor of the perilous voyage to freedom.

Danel said he clutched a piece of wood as his parents slipped away and drowned at sea.

″I hollered for my mom and my dad, and they didn’t turn up,″ the boy told Arturo Cobo, director of the Cuban Transit Center, which provides temporary housing for new Cuban immigrants.

Fellow refugees making the 90-mile crossing found the boy on Monday, and the Coast Guard picked up the group 60 miles off Key West. Daniel was in serious condition with gasoline and acid burns.

Daniel is among the thousands of Cubans who take to the sea to escape Fidel Castro’s communist regime.

On Tuesday, 221 people in 30 groups were found, bringing the year’s total to 6,289, nearly double last year’s 3,656, the Coast Guard said.

Monday’s total of 282 was a record for a single day since the 1980 Mariel boatlift, which brought 125,000 Cubans to South Florida in five months.

Missing along with Daniel’s parents, Juan Carlos and Julia Ester Busso, are their friends Mercedes and Armando Martine Vasquez and the couple’s 10-year- old son Juviel.

Maria Vasquez, the couple’s aunt, said the two families left the Cuban port of Mariel on Saturday with three other boats full of refugees and were not stopped by the Cuban border patrol.

″They saw them, and they let them leave,″ she said. She said the Coast Guard told her that none of the others had been found.

Cuban rescue and exile groups say as few as one in four refugees who take to the seas make it to the United States.

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