Helicopter Crew Rescues Distressed Mariner

CHANNEL ISLANDS – Coast Guard rescue crews saved the life of a 70-year-old man early this morning when his 50-foot sail boat lost power offshore of Santa Cruz Island.

The mariner was the only person aboard the vessel when it had lost all propulsion, and the use of all electronic equipment on board. Unable to make any radio transmissions, the mariner activated his Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon to alert search and rescue agencies. Satellites detected the beacon’s signal, and an aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles took off shortly before 3:00 a.m.

Even though the sail boat was unlighted, the crew sighted the vessel with night vision goggles within a half mile from the shore and drifting toward the island. Once the rescue helicopter pulled into a hover, the sailor lowered his dinghy into the water and quickly took refuge on it. Helicopter rescue Swimmer Petty Officer 2nd Class Steve Rich directed him to enter the water in order to safely hoist the man to safety. The man was evaluated on the way back to the Coast Guard Air Station, where he was then taken by paramedics to Daniel Freeman Hospital in Marina Del Rey.

He was treated for mild hypothermia. After sunrise a second helicopter crew located the wreckage of the wooden sail boat on the shoreline of Santa Cruz Island.

The Coast Guard would like to remind all mariners to carry safety equipment on board when they go out. Having the EPIRB was a great way for the mariner to call for help even when all of his electronics were down.

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