Coast Guard rescues boater in Lake Michigan

Coast Guard District 9 NewsCLEVELAND — A rescue boatcrew from Coast Guard Station St. Joseph, Mich., rescued one recreational boater after the 38-foot pleasure craft he was on sank in Lake Michigan Wednesday afternoon.

Rescued was a 50-year-old man from Berrien Springs, Mich. His name is not being released.

The radio watchstander at Coast Guard Station St. Joseph was contacted at 5:16 p.m., CST, by the man on a marine-band radio. Communicating on VHF-FM channel 16, the international hailing and distress frequency, the man reported he had looked into the engine compartment of his boat to investigate a burning smell and smoke and saw the compartment begin to flood with water.

A Station St. Joseph rescue boatcrew aboard a 25-foot Response Boat-Small, which was already underway on a patrol, was diverted to respond. By the time the RB-S crew arrived on scene at 5:39 p.m., the man had put on a lifejacket, depressed the distress button on his handheld marine-band radio, and grabbed his emergency signaling devices before the boat sank and he entered the water. As the St. Joseph boatcrew neared, he fired a flare to ensure they could locate him.

The man’s boat was nearly completely sunk, with only three to four feet of the bow remaining above the water.

The RB-S crew took the man aboard and had him put on one of their cold-water drysuits to warm him up. They transported him to the station, where he was met by EMS. The man’s wife and children were contacted and came to the station, where they were with him in the ambulance as he continued to warm up. Once he was dry and warm, he declined further medical assistance and was released.

There is no reported pollution from the sunken vessel, and the man has contracted commercial salvage.

Combining the fact that he had a float plan with his family, he knew how to operate his marine-band radio and who to contact, and had all required and recommended safety gear “all came together to make it very easy to effect a rescue,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jeff Catanzarite, officer-of-the-day at Station St. Joseph.

“His preparation exponentially increased his chances of survival,” he said.

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