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Coast Guard responses

Boat swamped and sunk

Air Station Clearwater, Fla.

Just after midnight, more than 12 hours after a storm swamped their boat, a Coast Guard helicopter from the Air Station Clearwater plucked two men from choppy 70-degree water nearly 12 miles offshore west of Brooksville, Fla. The men, ages 48 and 52, were reported overdue to the Coast Guard about two hours before by a girlfriend of one of the men after they failed to return from a six-mile voyage for an afternoon of fishing. The helicopter delivered the men to waiting paramedics back at Air Station Clearwater, but the men were released without any treatment. They were picked up by family. The men told their rescuers that their boat was swamped by two large waves during the storm and that the boat immediately sank while they scrambled for their lifejackets and survival equipment. While their personal flotation devices allowed them to stay afloat in the rough seas, a waterproof flashlight that they grabbed from their sinking boat may have been the key to their survival. Coast Guard crews using night vision goggles saw their light in the distance and were able to zero in on their position. (May 6)

Ailing sailor airlifted

Air Station Clearwater, Fla.

A Coast Guard helicopter from Air Station Clearwater medevaceda 73-year-old man from his 37-foot sailboat in heavy seas 40 miles west of Sarasota. The man, who had suffered heart and respiratory problems over the last 48 hours, was one of six people aboard the boat, which was taking part in a regatta from St. Petersburg to Mexico when it ran into severe weather and lost its ability to steer. The captain of the sailboat contacted the Coast Guard via satellite phone, but the weather delayed the rescue until later in the morning. The helicopter then had to relocate the vessel before it could complete the rescue. A medically trained Coast Guard rescue swimmer was lowered to the sailboat to evaluate the man’s condition and stayed on board for several hours while the helicopter returned to Clearwater for additional fuel. The man was eventually brought to Tampa General Hospital in stable condition. A rescue boat from Coast Guard Station Sand Key was towing the sailboat into Clearwater Pass. (May 1)

Overloaded 50-foot boat

South of West Caicos Island

An aircrew of an HH-65 helicopter from Air Station Traverse City, Mich., spotted and helped offload 132 migrants from a 50-foot sailboat. The migrants were spotted by the aircrew during a routine patrol for Operation Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. That evening, the aircrew joined Coast Guard Cutter Dependable to disembark the migrants. The migrants had spent five days at sea 10 miles south of West Caicos Island in the Caribbean but were in good condition. Dependable repatriated the migrants. (May 5)

Missing after capsize

Station New Orleans, La.

The Coast Guard ended its search for a boater who went missing after his 22-foot boat overturned in the Industrial Canal. The man was one of two boaters aboard the overturned boat. He reportedly attempted to swim to shore and went missing. The other boater clung to the overturned boat and was picked up by a Good Samaritan. The Coast Guard received the report of an overturned boat in the Industrial Canal near the Florida Ave. Bridge. Coast Guard search crews, along with Harbor Police personnel immediately began searching for Purifoy.A 25-foot rescue boatcrew from Coast Guard Station New Orleans, and an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter rescue crew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans searched throughout the day until nightfall and resumed their search the next morning. (May 16)