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Fri July 25, 2003 MIAMI - Cuban migrants fashioned a boat out of a 1951 Chevy pickup truck and “drove” it to within 40 miles of the United States before they were spotted and returned to the island, the U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday.
Twelve Cuban migrants attempt to cross the Straits of Florida Wednesday, July 16, 2003, in a boat fashioned out of a 1951 Chevy pickup truck driving it within 40 miles of the United States before they were found by the U.S. Coast Guard and returned to the island. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, Gregory Wald)
The dozen migrants, some sheltered in the truck cab or under a yellow tarp covering the bed, were noticed last week by a U.S. Customs aircraft south of Key West, Coast Guard Petty Officer Ryan Doss said.
A propeller attached to the drive shaft of the green vintage pickup was pushing it along at about 8 mph, Doss said. The truck-raft was kept afloat by empty 55-gallon drums attached to the bottom as pontoons.
Migrants have been found on rafts or small boats made out of refrigerators, bathtubs, surfboards and inner tubes, but the truck was believed to be a first.
“We haven’t come across any vehicles like that before,” Doss said.
The truck was sunk as a hazard to ocean navigation.
The Cubans were returned Sunday, Doss said. Under U.S. law, Cubans who reach U.S. shores are allowed to stay while those caught at sea are usually returned.
Later the same year the Cuban artist Armando Mariño, participating in the Eighth Havana Bienal, exhibited a piece entitled La Patera -- "footcar" or "foot-vehicle" -- pictures of which you can see below: