HOUSTON — A Coast Guard aircrew rescued two missing men on platforms in Galveston Bay Wednesday.
“We never gave up on these two gentlemen, and bringing them home safe to their families is what Coast Guardsmen live to do,” said Capt. Brian Penoyer, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston.
Michael Watkins and Raymond Jacik went fishing Monday morning and the wife of one of the men called for help when they did not return. Coast Guard air and boat crews, along with Galveston County and Chambers County Sheriffs, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department crews searched for the men, as well as receiving assistance from the Houston Police Department dive team, Tuesday.
The men reported that they had begun taking on water Monday and had problems with their bilge. They were overtaken by a rogue wave and capsized quickly, before they were able to don lifejackets. While swimming in the water they found their cooler and clung to it. They had water and a sandwich in the cooler and split that before eventually getting separated and finding their way to platforms.
“Especially as the boating season starts, it’s important to remember you may not have time to put on your life jacket in an emergency,” said Penoyer. “We were all very lucky this accident happened where it did and they could climb up on a nearby platform. Check that your life jackets are serviceable, and wear them — it could mean the difference in surviving.”
A Coast Guard Air Station Houston MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew spotted one of the men waving his arms at 10:31 a.m. Wednesday, and located the other man on another platform nearby at 10:36 a.m.
After rescuing the men, they were taken back to the air station at Ellington Field where they were met by EMS. One of the men was taken to Clear Lake Regional Medical Center and the other to Memorial Herman. Both men were in stable condition.