Coast Guard Air Facility Muskegon rescues kayaker 30 miles offshore in Lake Michigan

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CLEVELAND — The Coast Guard rescued a 31-year-old man 30 miles offshore in Lake Michigan Monday morning after he activated his personal locator beacon.

Just after 7:30 a.m., CST, watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan in Milwaukee received notification from the International Emergency Response Coordination Center about a distress signal received from a PLB in the middle of Lake Michigan, approximately 30 miles west of Muskegon, Michigan.

The aircrew from Coast Guard Air Facility Muskegon, Mich., stand with the man they rescued and his family at Muskegon County Airport, Sept. 1, 2014. The crew rescued the man 30 miles off-shore in Lake Michigan after he became fatigued from the adverse weather conditions and activated a personal locator beacon. (U.S Coast Guard photo courtesy of Air Facility Muskegon)

The aircrew from Coast Guard Air Facility Muskegon, Mich., stand with the man they rescued and his family at Muskegon County Airport, Sept. 1, 2014. (U.S Coast Guard photo courtesy of Air Facility Muskegon)

Sector Lake Michigan directed the launch of a rescue crew from Coast Guard Station Muskegon, aboard a 45-foot response boat, and a crew from Coast Guard Station Grand Haven, Michigan, aboard a 47-foot response boat. An aircrew from Coast Guard Air Facility Muskegon, aboard a Dolphin helicopter, also responded.

Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast, advising mariners of the situation, asking them to keep a sharp lookout, to report all sightings to the nearest Coast Guard unit and to assist if possible.

Watchstanders also contacted one of the man’s relatives based on information obtained from the registration of the PLB. That relative reported that the man was planning to kayak from Milwaukee to Muskegon yesterday, but did not know if he had arrived yet.

At about 9:30 a.m., EST, the aircrew from Air Facility Muskegon arrived overhead of the man’s last known position and located him waving his hands for help. A rescue swimmer was lowered into the water to assess the man’s condition. Both were then hoisted aboard the helicopter and taken to the Air Facility where they were met by local emergency medical services. They man was suffering extreme seasickness and confirmed that he had set off the distress alert from his PLB.

“The personal locator beacon played a huge role in the success of this rescue,” said Lt. Cmdr. Shana Donaldson, the pilot during the rescue from Air Facility Muskegon. “Having the survivor’s position made it easier for our crew to reach him quickly and get him out of a hazardous situation.”

“Registering your PLB gives the Coast Guard command center controllers a viable place to start their investigation and provides immediate contact with either the individual or with their family,” Donaldson added. “A registered PLB along with a comprehensive float plan left with a trusted relative or friend is the surest way to a quick rescue.”

The on-scene weather was reported to be waves around 10 feet with south winds from 23 to 28 mph.



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