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Fishing trip becomes a life-and-death struggle

SEPT. 26 — Seven Pennsylvania men drifted in a life raft off Delaware for nearly two days after their sportfishing boat reportedly collided with something and sank.

The men told Coast Guard authorities that the boat, named Chief, struck a large black object around noon Sept. 23 about 30 miles from the Indian River Inlet, news reports say. The engine room began to fill with water and, despite efforts to pump it out, the men abandoned the boat and climbed into a life raft.

“I heard the alarm for high water go off and ran down the steps, and water was already coming up the steps,” one crewmember says in a news report. “We literally had no time.”

When the men failed to return, the manager of the Indian River Inlet contacted the Coast Guard, which launched an extensive search, a news report says. A Coast Guard helicopter crew spotted the men Sept. 24 aboard the life raft drifting in 15-foot seas about 70 miles from shore.

The seven men were hoisted onto the helicopter and transported to a Coast Guard cutter, where they were said to be in good health, says a news report. The men say they survived, in part, because they had four bottles of water with them on the raft.

“Thank God, thank God for the Coast Guard,” the boat’s skipper says in a news report. “They really, really did a good job.”

— Jason Fell