Coast Guard, Navy rescue 9 kayakers near Fidalgo island, Wash.

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SEATTLE — Coast Guard and Navy personnel rescued seven children and two adults after they became separated during a kayaking trip near Rosario Beach on Fidalgo Island, Thursday afternoon.

An aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles, aboard an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and a Navy aircrew from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Search and Rescue, aboard an MH-60 Knighthawk helicopter, were able to safely hoist all nine people, who were wearing life jackets, and transport them to Whidbey General Hospital in good condition at about 3 p.m.

“The Coast Guard and Navy coordinated well and that resulted in a successful outcome,” said Mike McKiernan, command duty officer at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound. “These people also had the right safety equipment with them, including a VHF-FM radio, and they were wearing their life jackets.”

An instructor from the kayaking group contacted the Coast Guard via VHF-FM radio at about 1:10 p.m., alerting authorities that the group had become separated. Coast Guard and Navy aircrews, a boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Bellingham, aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium, and a boatcrew from Skagit County Fire and Rescue launched to assist. Weather on scene was reported to be 3 to 4 foot seas with 15-knot winds, with a small craft advisory in effect.

A good Samaritan on a nearby small boat located five children on the beach and two aboard kayaks in a kelp bed. The Navy aircrew arrived on scene and deployed a rescue swimmer to assist the seven children, who were safely hoisted aboard the Knighthawk helicopter. The Navy rescue swimmer remained with the two adults, and all three people were safely hoisted aboard the Dolphin helicopter. The nine kayakers were transported in good condition to Whidbey General Hospital in reportedly good condition.

Two kayaks were recovered by the boatcrew from Station Bellingham. The remaining paddlecraft may be unmanned, unlighted and adrift, and may present a hazard to navigation. Mariners are advised to keep a sharp lookout to prevent collisions and are encouraged to report any sightings to Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound at 206-217-6001.



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