Coast Guard Station Fairport rescues hypothermic man after boat crashes into breakwall

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CLEVELAND – The Coast Guard rescued a man after his sailing vessel struck the Fairport, Ohio, breakwall Wednesday night.

The name and hometown of the man are not being released.

At 8 p.m., the watchstander at Coast Guard Station Fairport, Ohio, received notification from a good Samaritan reporting two sailing vessels in distress on Lake Erie near Headlands Beach.

A rescue crew, aboard a 45-foot response boat, from the station was patrolling in the area and arrived on scene with the two sailboats within a few minutes.

A sailing vessel sits partially submerged in Lake Erie next to the Fairport, Ohio, breakwall Oct. 9, 2014. The sailboat was pushed by a gust of wind into the breakwall and the man aboard was rescued by members of Coast Guard Station Fairport. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Alfonso Estades)

A sailing vessel sits partially submerged in Lake Erie next to the Fairport, Ohio, breakwall Oct. 9, 2014. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Alfonso Estades)

The men on the sailboats reported that they were not in distress, but due to the large waves and heavy winds they were headed in to shore for the night.

The Coast Guard rescue crew was escorting the two sailboats into Fairport Harbor when a gust of wind blew one of the sailboats into the breakwall.

After crashing into the breakwall, the sailboat began to break apart and sink. The man on the sailboat was able to climb to safety on the wall.

The Coast Guard rescue crew transferred the man from the breakwall onto their 45-foot boat. Once aboard the Coast Guard boat, the man began to show signs of hypothermia after being drenched by the waves. The rescue crew attempted to warm the man with blankets and by getting him out of the wind.

The man was taken to the station where awaiting emergency medical services personnel treated him for hypothermia and released him.

The man in the other sailboat followed the rescue crew to the station. After being released by EMS, both men embarked on the remaining sailboat and finished sailing to their intended destination.

The rescued man will arrange for commercial salvage to retrieve the partially submerged boat.

The Coast Guard reminds all boaters to dress for the water temperatures not the air temperatures.

The water temperature on Lake Erie near Fairport is reported to be 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cold water is defined as any water temperature less than 70 F. The fact that air temperatures might be far above freezing is irrelevant when people unexpectedly enter the water or have gotten wet by waves.

“Both of these men were dressed for cold air temperatures and not cold water temperatures. That is why one became hypothermic,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Riley, the coxswain of the rescue boat.

“He was wearing pants and a sweater, but to escape the icy clutches of hypothermia he needed to be wearing a dry suit or other articles of clothing designed for cold water.”

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