LOS ANGELES — The Coast Guard recued a 50-year-old male diver Friday at 7 a.m., after he was stranded for more than 40 hours on the backside of Catalina Island.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach command center received a call at 10:45 p.m., Thursday, reporting that an individual aboard a 38-foot sailing vessel had departed Dana Point at 7 a.m., Wednesday, and was headed to Catalina Island to dive. Although the individual was not scheduled to be back at any specific time, the reporting source said he should return by sunset Thursday or by noon Friday.
A MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Forward Operating Base Point Mugu was launched at 6 a.m., Friday to conduct a “first light search” of the area. A Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat—Medium boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Los Angeles also began searching the area for the possible missing diver.
The helicopter crew located the individual on the backside of Catalina Island wearing a black dive suit and waving a orange lifejacket. A Coast Guard rescue swimmer was lowered and the individual was safely hoisted and taken to Hogue Hospital in Irvine. The diver was reported to be experiencing symptoms of hypothermia and dehydration.
The diver reported to the rescue crew that he anchored his vessel Wednesday afternoon and after coming up from his second dive, his vessel had drifted out to sea. He attempted to swim after the vessel and realized it was best to swim to shore. He made it to shore around 2 p.m., Wednesday and had zero contact with anyone since. He reported to had spelled out SOS with debris and shot off two flares with no visibility. The diver was rescued by the Coast Guard after he was spotted waving a life jacket in the air.
The Coast Guard urges all divers to always:
- Always dive with a partner in close proximity.
- Plan your dive and dive that plan.
- Dive within your limits.
- Look at and double check your gauges regularly.
- Test new equipment in a controlled environment.
- Verify the safety of your equipment.
- Stay Informed – The public should be aware of weather conditions and monitor progress through local television, radio and internet. Check the current and expected weather and water conditions before heading out, and be aware that weather conditions can quickly change. http://www.weather.gov.
- File a float plan. A float plan is simply letting family and friends know where you are going and your expected time of return. File a float plan with someone who is not getting underway with you and stick to the plan. If you change plans, contact the person. A float plan assists responders in the search of an overdue boater who may be in distress.
- Have a signaling device to communicate distress on the water. Boaters should have a marine-band radio, signal flares and an emergency position-indicating radio beacon to alert first responders. Boaters can reach the Coast Guard on marine-band radios on VHF channel 16 24/7, and an EPIRB provides search-and-rescue coordinators with vital information such as phone numbers and the description and type of vessel, which allows the Coast Guard to respond much quicker.