Coast Guard Rescues 5 Boaters

SAVANNAH, Ga. – A Coast Guard helicopter rescue crew rescued five missing boaters stranded on the eastern side of St. Catherine’s Island, Ga., today at approximately 3 a.m.

“We were really glad we found everybody and could get them safely back with their families. I was really proud of our flight crew. We clicked really well and did a great job,” said Lt. Matthew Walker, the pilot of the Coast Guard rescue helicopter.

John Hatfield, Brett Poythress, Norman Casteel, Russell Black and Nicole Anderson left from the Demetries Creek Boat Ramp Sunday for a day trip. When the group of five didn’t return, Hatfield’s father called Coast Guard Station Tybee Island, Ga., at 10:35 p.m. The five had beached their vessel on the Atlantic side of the island to safely ride out a passing squall. The tide flooded the vessel and pushed it too far up on the beach to push back into the water.

Rescue coordinators at Coast Guard Sector Charleston, S.C., launched a rescue boat from Station Tybee Island and enlisted the help of South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Richmond Hill Marine Rescue Unit and the Liberty County Fire Department to assist in the search.

At 10:56 p.m., a vessel in the area where the search was being conducted spotted a signal flare the group of missing boaters shot into the air and called the Coast Guard. This information narrowed the search area for rescue coordinators who launched the rescue helicopter from Air Station Savannah to assist in the search at 12:35 a.m. The missing boaters shot the signal flare hoping to alert nearby boaters of their position.

The rescue helicopter crew spotted the group signaling their aircraft with lighters using night vision. The helicopter crew hoisted the five people safely and took them back to Air Station Savannah, Ga.

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