Coast Guard aircrew locates, rescues 4 from Carp River

Great Lakes Coast Guard NewsCLEVELAND — A Coast Guard aircrew rescued four people who were reported overdue on a canoe trip in the Carp River near St. Ignace, Mich., early Friday morning.

A search-and-rescue coordinator at the 9th Coast Guard District Command Center, in Cleveland, received a request for assistance from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in locating a reported four people overdue on a canoe trip.

The reporting source, the father and husband of the overdue canoeists, reported that the four individuals departed in two canoes at 5:45 p.m. Thursday and were scheduled to return no later than 9 p.m. Thursday. The man reported them overdue to the Mackinac County, Mich., Sheriff’s Office at 10:30 p.m.

The Coast Guard always recommends boaters remain in contact with someone onshore and also file a float plan. Float plans do not have to be written or submitted anywhere, but as long as someone knows the general facts of a boater’s planned outing, they can report it to the proper authorities in case of an emergency.

The sheriff’s office passed the information to the AFRCC, who then sent notification to the Michigan State Police. After hours of searching, the state police aircrews reached fatigue limits, and the AFRCC turned to the Coast Guard. An aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., launched aboard an MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter for their initial search at 3:20 a.m. Friday. The canoeists were located by the aircrew at about 6 a.m.

Before the aircrew could execute a rescue, the helicopter needed fuel, but communications was established with the canoeists before they left the scene. The aircrew lowered a handheld radio to the canoeist to gain that communications.

“Communications is vital in all search and rescue cases, so in assessing a situation we always makes sure the distressed individuals have radio communications with our aircrew,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Tjader, flight mechanic aboard the rescue helicopter. ” In this situation the canoeists had no radio, so we gave them one before departing to get fuel.”

The Coast Guard recommends that all boaters, whether paddle operated or motorized, always carry a VHF marine radio, so they can communicate with emergency responders.

Upon returning from St. Ignace Airport, the aircrew safely hoisted all four individuals and delivered them to the airport, where they were checked out by awaiting emergency medical services. All four were allowed to head home after being examined by the medical technicians.

“This mission was successful due, in part, to our exceptional relationships with our partner agencies,” said Capt. Andrew Sugimoto, deputy chief of response, 9th Coast Guard District. Passing information between the agencies and ensuring the right asset was in the right place helped to give this story a happy ending.”

The AFRCC is the United States’ inland search-and-rescue coordinator and is located at Tyndall Air Force Base, near Panama City, Fla. The AFRCC serves as the single agency responsible for coordinating on-land federal SAR activities in the 48 contiguous states, Mexico and Canada.

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