DETROIT – Coast Guard boat and air crews worked together for a unique rescue of two people stranded on a disabled boat at the mouth of the Detroit River late Tuesday night.
The Rockwood Police Department was first notified of the disabled and adrift 14-foot boat, and passed the information to Coast Guard Sector Detroit immediately; reporting one of the boaters was susceptible to hypothermia.
A helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit immediately launched, as well as a boat crew from Coast Guard Station Belle Isle. A Rockwood Police officer who responded by car spotted the vessel near Celeron Island in the Detroit River and said the boaters were holding onto reeds to keep their vessel from drifting.
Helicopter pilots, wearing night-vision goggles, saw a flare the boaters fired off several miles from the helicopter’s position, so they went to the location and hovered over the vessel to determine the severity of the situation. Determining there was no immediate distress, the helicopter vectored the boat crew to the area to assist.
The water was too shallow for the 45-foot Coast Guard boat to come alongside the disabled vessel, so one of the Coast Guardsmen waded through the shallow water to attach a tow line to the 14-foot boat and pull it to the Coast Guard vessel. Coast Guardsmen placed the disabled boat in side tow and took it and the two passengers safely to shore, where the boaters declined medical care.
“The boaters did everything right in this case, and their actions illustrate why it is vital for boaters to carry flares,” said Lt. j.g. Jacob Naum of Air Station Detroit. “They used their flares appropriately when they realized our helicopter was looking for them, and as a result our pilots located them instantly, completely eliminating search time and ensuring a swift rescue.Simple things like carrying flares, filing a float plan with a friend, having a personal locator beacon onboard, and wearing lifejackets increase chances of survival immensely and help us help boaters.”