Coast Guard rescues one of its own

MIAMI - Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Russell, 22, and his wife Troy, 18, of Sunrise, Fla., lead the way after being brought in to Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet in Riviera Beach, Fla., March 24, 2011. The Russells, including a brother, Jacob Russell, 17, and their father, Chris Russell, 51, were rescued from their 20-foot capsized vessel 18 miles off West Palm Beach, Fla. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Hannum.

Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Krystyna Hannum

MIAMI — The Coast Guard rescued four boaters, including a Miami-based Coast Guardsman, from a capsized pleasure craft about 20 miles east of Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday morning.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Russell, a damage controlman assigned to Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Team South based in Opa Locka, Fla., was boating with his father, wife and younger brother Wednesday night when their boat capsized around 10 p.m.

An HC-144A Ocean Sentry fixed-wing aircraft located the four clinging to the hull of the capsized vessel at 9:05 a.m. Thursday. They were all wearing life jackets.

A Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet, Fla., boatcrew arrived on scene and safely transferred the four boaters to awaiting EMS personnel at Station Lake Worth Inlet.

“We cannot stress enough the importance of wearing a life jacket while boating,” said Capt. Chris Scraba, commander, Coast Guard Sector Miami. “In this case the life jackets were readily accessible, were put on as soon as the crew knew they were in trouble, and prevented fatigue of the survivors as they had to hang on to the hull throughout the night. This is a great case and we are glad they were quickly found by the Coast Guard aircraft crew and recovered 30 minutes later by a Coast Guard boatcrew.”

A commercial salvage company will attempt to right the capsized vessel.

Cell phones do not provide reliable coverage when offshore on a boat. All boaters should use a VHF-FM radio every time they get underway as a primary form of communication. Additionally, the Coast Guard strongly recommends having an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon or a Personal Locator Beacon as a cost-effective, reliable emergency signaling device.

For information on VHF-FM radios, EPIRBs and filing a float plan, visit www.uscgboating.org.

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