Cordova residents rescued from the Copper River Delta

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak-based MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew medevaced three Cordova men stranded and showing signs of hypothermia from the Copper River delta to Cordova Monday.

U.S. Coast Guard HH-60 rescue helicopterThe Coast Guard received notification Sunday evening that Kevin Kimber, William Bell and Leon Blackler had become stranded on shore in the Copper River Delta 13 miles southeast of Cordova when their 16-foot airboat named Double Deuce experienced mechanical trouble.  They reported they were OK however they would need assistance to get back to Cordova.

Coast Guard rescue coordinators had conferenced with the Cordova police department, which relayed that a nighttime rescue was too dangerous by land or water but they could perform a first light rescue.

Coast Guard rescue coordinators conducted a radio marine assistance request broadcast asking any mariner in the area to help the stranded men if safely possible.  Rescue coordinators also established and hourly communication schedule with the three men to ensure their safety through the night.

During the 2 a.m. check in, Bell reported via cell phone that Kimber was showing signs of hypothermia and that Blackler could no longer feel his feet.

The Kodiak rescue crew launched and arrived on scene at 6:34 a.m. where they landed nearby and recovered the three men and safely transported them to the Cordova airport and waiting emergency medical personnel there.

“We encourage everyone that enjoys Alaska’s outdoors to ensure that they are prepared for an emergency,” said Jennifer Whitcomb, Coast Guard search and rescue controller.  “Given how unprepared these men were, this case could have had a tragic ending.”

The Coast Guard encourages all mariners be prepared by ensuring they are always wearing a lifejacket, they are wearing the proper clothing for the Alaska outdoors, they have food, water and a reliable means of communication like a VHF radio.

The three men were taken to Cordova Community Medical Center for further medical treatment.  Their current medical condition is unknown.

Weather in the area was reported as winds of five mph mixed with rain and hail.

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