Coast Guard rescues 2 after their kayaks capsize near Middle Bass Island, Ohio

CLEVELAND — A U.S. Coast Guard boatcrew from Station Marblehead, Ohio, rescued two kayakers who had been in the water about 45 minutes after their kayaks capsized near Middle Bass Island in Lake Erie Saturday afternoon.

The Coast Guardsmen, aboard a 33-foot Law Enforcement Special Purpose Craft, were in the process of towing a disabled vessel to Put In Bay, Ohio, when they spotted two people in the water waving their arms to gain the boatcrew’s attention off Middle Bass Island State Park about 4:15 p.m.

The Coast Guardsmen arrived on scene with the men and learned their kayaks had capsized, sending them into the water, and they couldn’t get back into them. One of the men was wearing a life jacket and the other, who indicated he didn’t know how to swim, was holding onto a life jacket. Although they were both initially wearing life jackets, one man didn’t have his on properly and it fell off. The men, ages 29 and 32, estimated they had been in the 65-degree water roughly 45 minutes before they saw the Coast Guard boatcrew. They had no means of communication with them.

“This rescue illustrates why it’s so important for all mariners, including kayakers, to have a Personal Locator Beacon or a VHF-FM marine radio,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Smith, of Station Marblehead. “Because they didn’t have either of these two pieces of lifesaving equipment, they had no way of communicating with anyone that they were in distress and needed help. It was only by chance that we spotted them.”

A Personal Locator Beacon sends a signal to emergency responders, as well as a precise GPS location, alerting responders a person is in distress. PLBs help take the search out of search and rescue and may greatly increase the chance of survival in a distress situation.

The boatcrew brought the men aboard the SPC-LE and transported them to Put In Bay, where they were met by EMS, who evaluated and released them.

In addition to carrying the proper safety equipment, the Coast Guard recommends all boaters wear their life jackets at all times, ensuring they are on properly and fit correctly. It can be extremely difficult to locate and don a life jacket after an accident occurs.


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