Coast Guard, Good Samaritan Rescue 3 Divers

NEW ORLEANS – The Coast Guard and a good Samaritan rescued three divers today about six miles southwest of Panama City, Fla., after the dive boat they were on capsized Wednesday.

While on patrol near St. Andrew’s Bay marina, a boat crew from Coast Guard Station Panama City was stopped by a woman at the marina who reported her husband and two others had not returned from a dive trip off the Florida coast Wednesday. The boat crew and an HU-25 Falcon jet crew from Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile, Ala., began their search in an area known as “Black Bart,” – the diver’s last known position.

The Coast Guard continued their search until midnight and resumed at sunrise today.

The coordination of the Coast Guard’s search and rescue efforts rested in the hands of Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Weekley, search and rescue coordinator at Coast Guard Sector Mobile. He said, “In order to develop a search plan, we take the crew’s last known position, wind, wave and current sea states, and develop a simulated scenario known as a ‘drift model,’ in a computer. We fast-forward the model from the time of their last known position to our current time in order to find a ‘most likely’ position the victims could be at.”

Using the search patterns developed by Weekley, the Falcon jet crew successfully located the three divers and their capsized 20-foot boat at about 9:30 a.m.

From the air, the jet crew vectored in a good Samaritan, the crew of the Harvey Spirit, to rescue the divers.

The Harvey Spirit crew rescued the survivors, transported them to the Coast Guard crew from Station Panama City and were taken to awaiting paramedics at St. Andrew State Park, Fla.

“It feels great to know I had a part in saving someone’s life today,” Weekley said. “[As a Search and Rescue Controller,] we’re kind of like coaches in a sports game. We crunch the numbers, crack the code and put the rescue teams where they need to be. Otherwise, they would be going in blind. In this case, the survivors were right where the drift model said they would be.”

Source: D8 Office of External Affairs

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