Man rescued by Coast Guard during heavy weather

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MIAMI — A man aboard a sailboat was rescued by an aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Miami off Islamorada, Fla., as heavy winds and seas passed through the area early Tuesday morning.

A man living aboard a sailboat contacted the Coast Guard via VHF-FM radio and reported he was in distress due to the heavy weather early Tuesday morning.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew and Coast Guard Station Islamorada smallboat crew were sent to assist the mariner in distress. Due to on-scene weather conditions the man could not be safely brought aboard the Coast Guard vessel.

A rescue swimmer was lowered into the water to swim to the vessel. Due to high winds and rough seas, the vessel drifted away from the rescue swimmer, at which time he was brought back aboard the helicopter.

The aircrew worked with the man in distress and formed a plan to rescue the him from the water. The man, wearing a life jacket, jumped into the water. The rescue swimmer was then lowered into the water next to the man and successfully rescued him.

“One of the reasons we were able to rescue the man in distress was due to the fact he had a VHF-FM radio on board to contact the Coast Guard, and he was wearing a life jacket,” said Capt. Todd Lutes, chief of incident management for the Coast Guard 7th District in Miami. “These critical pieces of safety equipment helped our crews work around the challenges the weather created and save the man from a dangerous situation.”

Weather conditions during the rescue were 10 – 12 foot seas and 30 – 35 mph winds.

The man was brought to Air Station Miami where treated for minor injuries.

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