Life jackets, float plan save parents, child following Ossabaw Sound, Ga., boating accident

Southeastern Coast Guard News
OSSABAW ISLAND, GA. — Life jackets may have saved the lives of two adults and a child, who were hoisted from Ossabaw Island, Ga., by a Coast Guard helicopter crew after their vessel began taking on water, causing them to abandon ship into Ossabaw Sound where they drifted for more than two hours before sunrise Sunday morning.

A concerned neighbor of the family contacted watchstanders in the Coast Guard Sector Charleston, S.C., command center at approximately 10:20 p.m. Saturday to report the Ellabell, Ga., man, woman and their son had not returned from their boating trip before sunset, as originally intended.

Crewmembers aboard an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Savannah, Ga., and a boatcrew aboard a 25-foot Response Boat – Small from Coast Guard Station Tybee Island, Ga., launched to search after the neighbor confirmed the family’s vehicle and trailer were still at Bell’s Landing boat ramp, where they launched earlier in the day.

Life jackets may have saved the lives of two Ellabell, Ga., adults and their son (center), who were were hoisted from Ossabaw Island, Ga., by a Coast Guard helicopter crew Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013. The family reported to the aircrew they put their life jackets on and attempted to swim to shore after their boat began taking on water, but they got swept out to sea with the outgoing tide and drifted in Ossabaw Sound and the Atlantic Ocean for about two hours before the tide shifted, pushing them back toward Ossabaw Island. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Kelly Winslow)

Life jackets may have saved the lives of two Ellabell, Ga., adults and their son (center), who were were hoisted from Ossabaw Island, Ga., by a Coast Guard helicopter crew Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Kelly Winslow)

A Savannah Metro Police Department helicopter crew spotted the boat anchored and partially submerged at the northern tip of Ossabaw Island at 1:15 a.m. Sunday. Forty minutes later, the Coast Guard aircrew located the family of three on the beach on Ossabaw Island about two and a half miles away from the boat.

The Coast Guardsmen airlifted the trio and took them to Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga., where they were reunited with other family members. There were no injuries reported.

The family reported to the aircrew they put their life jackets on and attempted to swim to shore after their boat began taking on water, but they got swept out to sea with the outgoing tide and drifted in Ossabaw Sound and the Atlantic Ocean for about two hours before the tide shifted, pushing them back toward Ossabaw Island.

“This rescue is a perfect example of why life jackets and float plans are vitally important tools for mariners to use, and could be the determining factor in survival following an accident,” said Lt. Cmdr. Derek Beatty of the Sector Charleston command center. “Had the neighbor not known the family’s estimated return time or whereabouts, there’s no telling how long they would have been stranded. It’s also unlikely all three would have survived in the open water for two hours without life jackets. They were well prepared and it paid off ten-fold.”

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Coffee Bluff Marine Rescue Squadron also assisted with the search.

 

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