Coast Guard rescues 3 boaters near Glenlord Beach

A Coast Guard boatcrew from Station St. Joseph, Mich., rescued three men after their boat (shown above) capsized in Lake Michigan near Glenlord Beach in Stevensville, Mich., Tuesday.CLEVELAND — A U.S. Coast Guard boatcrew from Station St. Joseph, Mich., rescued three people whose boat capsized in the 59-degree water of Lake Michigan Tuesday.

Rescued were:
Seth Kulpinski, 36, of Three Rivers, Mich.;
Jake Rolan, 24, of Marcellus, Mich.;
Chad Witt, 28, of Three Rivers, Mich.

Kulpinski, Rolan and Witt reportedly used a VHF-FM radio initially to call for help, but after the men’s initial mayday calls went unanswered, they used a cell phone to call 911. They were only able to pass the first line of their GPS position when dispatchers lost contact with them on the cell phone.

Crews from Station St. Joseph had just returned from training on their 25-foot Response Boat-Small and their 47-foot Motor Life Boat and were still dressed in their personal protective equipment when 911 dispatchers notified them of the accident. Both boats were underway again at 11:47 a.m., about two minutes after the notification.

Since the boatcrews didn’t have a precise location, they split up to search in two different areas.

The RB-S crew found the men on top of their capsized boat about 800 yards off Glenlord Beach in Stevensville, Mich., at 12:01 p.m.

The boatcrew brought the men aboard the RB-S and transported them to awaiting emergency medical technicians on shore. The EMTs treated all three men for hypothermia before releasing them.

Kulpinski, Rolan and Witt reported that they took a wave over the side of their 18-foot outboard fishing boat, which decreased the vessel’s stability and eventually caused it to capsize. They estimated that it capsized about 20 minutes before the Coast Guard boatcrew arrived. Only one of the three men was wearing a life jacket.

“Many boating accidents occur quickly and without any warning,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Ian Eady, the RB-S coxswain and executive petty officer at Station St. Joseph. “That’s why it’s vital for boaters to be prepared with the right equipment and to ensure that equipment will be accessible during an emergency.”

The Coast Guard recommends that mariners heed the following safety tips to greatly improve their chances of survival:

  • Wear a personal floatation device/life jacket at all times. The law states you must have a PFD for every person on board, but the Coast Guard suggests you go one step further and wear your PFD at all times when boating.  It is much more difficult to locate, access, or don a PFD at the moment an accident occurs.
  • Have a registered 406MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. EPIRBs can be automatically or manually activated during an emergency and notify response agencies that you are in trouble and provide your precise location.
  • Have a marine band radio and visual distress signals. These devices will greatly assist you if you are in distress.
  • File a float plan and leave it with someone who is not recreating on the water.  A float plan is a lifesaving device on paper and can assist emergency responders with locating a distressed mariner.
  • DO NOT boat under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination. Factor in boat motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray and a drinker’s impairment is accelerated.

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