Coast Guard to hold ceremony to commemorate 10-year anniversary of fallen Station Niagara crewmembers

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Coast Guard will hold a memorial ceremony in Youngstown, N.Y., Wednesday at 1:00 p.m., to commemorate two Coast Guard Station Niagara crewmembers who died 10 years ago. Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O’Hara, vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and Rear Adm. Mike Parks, commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District will participate in the Memorial Service at the Old Fort Niagara Visitor’s Center. The service will be followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the permanent memorial at Coast Guard Station Niagara.

On Friday March 23, 2001 at 7:41 p.m., CG-214341, a nonstandard foam collar boat was underway from Coast Guard Station Niagara to conduct an illegal migrant interdiction mission in the Niagara River. A three person boatcrew/law enforcement team and one break-in crew member were onboard the vessel.

Immediately upon departing the station, the boat coxswain deviated from his float plan and went North into Lake Ontario to familiarize the break-in crew member with this portion of the stations area of operation.

Shortly after entering the lake, the boat experienced steep, four-foot waves from the North. On scene winds were reported from the Northwest at 10 knots, the air temperature was 37 degrees and the water temperature was 36 degrees.

The coxswain successfully navigated the boat approximately 1,000 to 1,500 yards North of buoy no. 3 (about 3,000 to 3,500 yards North of the mouth of the Niagara River) in Lake Ontario, turned the vessel around and proceeded back South in the direction of the Niagara River. At some time shortly before 8:00 p.m. and on the return trip South, approximately 50 yards North of Buoy No. 3, the coxswain overtook a wave, surfed down the front of that wave and buried the bow of CG-214341 in the backside of another wave. The vessel then slowly rolled over to starboard and all four crew members safely abandoned the vessel without injury.

A search was commenced when the boat missed its communications check at 8:01 p.m. but was hampered by the Coxswain’s decision to enter Lake Ontario without notifying the station. A Wilson, NY Fire Department boat crew recovered all four crewmen at 12:27 a.m. Saturday, March 24, 2001. The fire boat crew commenced CPR on Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Chism and Seaman Chris Ferreby, who were in cardiac arrest.

The four crewmen were rushed to Station Niagara where they were transferred to ambulances and taken to Mount St. mary’s Hospital in Lewiston, Mew York. Chism and Ferreby were pronounced dead at the hospital after life saving efforts failed. Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Moss and Petty Officer 3rd Class William Simpson, both of whom were suffering from hypothermia, eventually recovered and were able to return to duty.

A Coast Guard Air Station Detroit helicopter located CG-214341 onshore one mile east of the Niagara River. The boat was overturned and partially submerged.

 

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