Coast Guard crews rescue 2 boaters near San Juan

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A Coast Guard surface and air unit combined efforts to rescue two boaters following a vessel capsizing Wednesday morning, approximately six and a half nautical miles northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Rescued are Stephen McGrath, 54, and Tyler Penfield, 25, who reportedly were fishing for Mahi when a swell came over the bow of the 25-foot vessel Vida Azul causing the vessel to capsize and forcing the men into the water.

Watch standers at Sector San Juan received a Search and Rescue Satellite Alert from a 406 MHz personal locator beacon relaying the distress. Watch standers directed the launch of Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Borinquen and a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Station San Juan to search for signs of distress. 

Once on scene, the Coast Guard boat crew located the capsized vessel with just the bow remaining over the water. The Coast Guard aircrew also arrived on-scene, located the two boaters in the water and vectored-in the Coast Guard boat crew to their position. The Coast Guard boat crew came alongside the two men and used heaving lines to pull them from the rough sea conditions, three to occasional six-foot swells, and bring them safely aboard the vessel. The boaters were equipped and holding on to multiple lifejackets and a life ring when rescued.

“It was an amazing response by each person on the crew who remained calm and professional during this rescue of two boaters in rough seas,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class David Rodríguez, Station San Juan Boatswain mate and coxswain for the case. “We can’t stress enough the importance of carrying proper live-saving equipment onboard; today, it saved their life.”

The Coast Guard aircrew further emphasized the importance of having the proper lifesaving equipment onboard a vessel.

“This case is a perfect example for how being prepared can save your life,” said Lt. Todd Stephens, Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter pilot for the case. “The vessel in distress was equipped with a personal locator beacon that led us directly to their location. Additionally, both people had bright orange life jackets that made them very easy to spot from the air after their boat had sunk.”

Following the rescue, the Coast Guard boat crew transported the survivors to Coast Guard Base San Juan where they were released and received by family members.

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