Coast Guard and partner agences rescue 3 disoriented boaters off Matagorda Island

D8 LogoCORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Coast Guard, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked together to rescue three stranded boaters off of Matagorda Island in a joint operation spanning most of the weekend.

At approximately 8:30 p.m. Friday, watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi Command Center received a call from three boaters on a 22-foot boat saying they were disoriented and disabled somewhere in Matagorda Bay, but unsure of their exact location.

The Coast Guard conducted multiple searches throughout the night and most of the day Saturday in intense rain and winds using boats and aircraft from Port O’Connor, Corpus Christi and Mobile, Alabama, as well as reaching out to other mariners with an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast to request their help.

At approximately 4:45 p.m. Saturday, the aircrew on the Mobile based HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane spotted the three boaters walking on the beach 21 miles south of the Matagorda Jetties. The watchstanders diverted the crew on the rescue helicopter, which landed on the beach and took two of the three persons aboard. The third person refused assistance from the helicopter crew despite their best attempts to convince him to allow them to help. The 42-year-old woman and 56-year-old man were transported by the helicopter to Coast Guard Station Port O’Connor to waiting EMS. The two were released with no injuries.

Due to being 15-20 miles from any houses or stores, knowing hypothermia started to set in for the two recovered by helicopter and that weather continued to get worse, the Coast Guard contacted the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requesting they find and bring the third person, a 39-year-old man, to safety.

Both agencies began searching Matagorda Island at first light Sunday and found the man early that afternoon at the north end of the island and reported that he didn’t suffer any injuries.

“We are extremely happy this case had three happy endings,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Allen, the search and rescue mission coordinator for this case. “We had great teamwork between our air and surface assets to find the three boaters after a long search. The two who climbed onboard our helicopter made the right decision to be taken away from danger. Refusing rescue with bad weather in the area places not only the individual at greater risk but also the rescue crews that may need to go out again if conditions deteriorate further. The third man is extremely lucky to be found by our partner agencies.”

They reportedly put their boat in at Froggies Bait Dock in Port O’Connor and were attempting to reach a cabin on North Matagorda Island. The boat drifted overnight after it was disabled. The three individuals were unaware they were offshore until their boat washed up on the beach.

The Coast Guard would like to emphasize the use of safe boating practices. Always carry a marine VHF radio capable of calling for help, have a boating plan and communicate it with friends and family, do not boat under the influence, and always have enough life jackets for everyone aboard.

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