Coast Guard ends search for survivors of capsized vessel in Aguadilla

The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos

Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos file photo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard rescue crews suspended the search for additional survivors Sunday afternoon, after an illegal voyage vessel washed up against the coastal rocks of Punta Borinquen in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard, Ramey Sector Border Patrol and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action responding units rescued nine undocumented persons in distress. The nine survivors rescued and seven others, who safely reached shore on their own, are in Border Patrol custody.

According to statements from survivors, the capsized vessel was carrying 18 people onboard.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a communication at 10:08 a.m. Sunday from a concerned citizen who reported the incident. Watchstanders directed the launch of a Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Borinquen and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos to the scene.

The Coast Guard helicopter crew hoisted two of the survivors from the water and transferred them to Border Patrol units on scene.

“The people we saw climbed onto the tallest rocks they could safely traverse and wore bright fluorescent life jackets or clothes making it easy to spot them,” said Lt. Vincent P. Lewandowski, Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter aircraft commander. “I’m especially proud of the crew as crew communication and coordination was critical to the navigation of multiple boulders amidst the rising tide. Fortunately, the survivors were able to hang on until we arrived, and we are all glad they are safe.”

Among the survivors, there are reportedly 12 Dominican Republic men, two Haitian men, a Haitian woman, and a Haitian female minor.

Following the capsizing, responding units continued searching for approximately five hours, in favorable search conditions, before suspending the search.

  • MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter
  • Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos
  • Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos cutter boat
  • Puerto Rico Police Joint Force of Rapid Action marine units
  • Ramey Sector Border Patrol units

Cutter Joseph Tezanos is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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