Coast Guard rescues U.S. Virgin Islands boater disabled and adrift off of Puerto Rico

Coast Guard MH-65 Helicopter

USCG file photo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter rescued an overdue U.S. Virgin Islands boater Monday afternoon aboard a disabled and adrift 20-foot recreational vessel, approximately 32 nautical miles southeast of Maunabo, Puerto Rico.

The rescued man is reportedly a middle aged resident of Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, who traveled to Puerto Rico Sunday to pickup a recreational vessel in Fajardo to operate and return back to Saint Croix.

“This boater is extremely lucky to be alive,” said Cmdr. James P. Sutton, Coast Guard Sector San Juan chief of response. “Coast Guard Watchstanders did an excellent job in investigating and establishing the boater’s possible whereabouts, and thanks to the vigilance of the helicopter crew they were able to successfully locate him and ultimately save his life.”

Coast Guard Watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a 911 telephone call at 11:45p.m Sunday from an emergency operator in Saint Croix, who reported that the boater had not yet arrived to the island.

Coast Guard Watchstanders proceeded to coordinate Search and rescue efforts including port checks with local authorities in Vieques and Culebra, Puerto Rico as well as Saint Croix. They contacted the boater’s friends and family members to establish his possible whereabouts, and transmitted Urgent Marine Information Broadcasts and Enhanced Group Calling notifications for mariners to be on the lookout and report any possible sightings to the Coast Guard.

The crew of the Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen helicopter located the distressed boater at approximately 5:18p.m. Monday as he waved his hands over his head for assistance. The helicopter crew deployed their rescue swimmer and hoisted the boater safely onboard the aircraft.

The rescued boater was subsequently transported to the Isla Grande Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he was released to awaiting family members.

Also involved in the search for the rescued boater were Puerto Rico Police and Department of Environmental and Natural Resources personnel in Vieques and Culebra, Puerto Rico, as well as U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S Virgin Islands Police and Department of Natural Resources personnel in Saint Croix.

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