Coast Guard rescues boaters stranded on an ice flow

JUNEAU, Alaska — The Coast Guard safely hoisted five people from a 22-foot recreational boat 15 miles northwest of Dillingham at 8:45 a.m. after they became stranded in an ice flow on the Nushugak River.

Ryan Brannon, George Andrew, Okalina Andrew, Matrona Andrew and Jonathan Vogl, all residence of New Stuyahok, used their VHF radio to notify the Dillingham Police Department around 5:39 a.m. Tuesday who in turn alerted the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and the Alaska State Troopers responded with a fixed-wing aircraft.

The five men were safely hoisted in stable condition and taken to the local airport where an ambulance was waiting to take the boaters to the Nanaknek Clinic. No injuries were reported.

“Coast Guard personnel at the rescue coordination center in Juneau appreciated the professionalism of the Dillingham Police Department and the Alaska State Troopers who were able to assist during this case,” said Lt.j.g. Lee Coyle, command duty officer at the 17th Coast Guard District Rescue Coordination Center in Juneau.

It was reported that the boaters were not wearing life jackets and their only signaling device was a flashlight.

“These boaters did the right thing by using the VHF radio to contact the police department but are fortunate matters did not get worse especially without having any lifejackets on board,” said Coyle. “The potential for a disaster in this case highlights the need for mariners to maintain proper safety and survival equipment on their vessels at all times.”

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