Coast Guard, good Samaritan rescue 4 from boat fire

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CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Coast Guard and a good Samaritan rescued four people whose boat caught fire off the coast of Murrells Inlet, south of Myrtle Beach, Sunday.

Rescued were two men and two women.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Charleston received the initial report over VHF Channel 16 at approximately 11 a.m., from one of the four people aboard the vessel in distress stating that the boat had caught fire, but the fire was out. Minutes later the man called back stating the engine fire had relit.

The Coast Guard and a good Samaritan rescued four people whose boat caught fire off the coast of Murrells Inlet, south of Myrtle Beach, Dec. 14, 2014. One of the four was medevaced after displaying symptoms of hypothermia.

The Coast Guard and a good Samaritan rescued four people whose boat caught fire off the coast of Murrells Inlet, south of Myrtle Beach, Dec. 14, 2014. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

“At first he was calm, but all of the sudden in his next transmission he was yelling and almost incoherent, screaming that he was going to have to abandon his boat and get into his life raft,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Tara Nocerino, watchstander with Sector Charleston. “I told him to get in his raft and stay around the vessel and we lost comms with him at that point.”

In response to the report, the Coast Guard launched an MH-65D Dolphin helicopter and crew from Coast Guard Air Facility Charleston and a boatcrew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat — Medium from Coast Guard Station Georgetown to assist. The crew of the Low Bid, a fishing boat in the area, responded to the calls of distress and rescued the four people who had fled to their life raft. They transferred them to the Coast Guard response boat shortly after the boatcrew arrived on scene a few minutes later. The crew of the Low Bid informed the Coast Guard crew that one of men was exhibiting symptoms of hypothermia. The small boat crew contacted the helicopter crew and conducted a medevac of the man. He was taken to Georgetown Memorial Hospital for care.

“It is cases such as this that serve as a reminder, the importance of mariners equipping their vessels with the appropriate safety equipment, such as marine radios, life jackets and life rafts,” said Chief Petty Officer Eric Gentry, command duty officer for the Sector Charleston command center. “By being able to abandon their vessel into a life raft, the passengers of this vessel provided the necessary time needed for rescue crews to respond.”

The remaining three people were taken to Murrells Inlet where local EMS was standing by.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

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