Coast Guard rescues 4 from overturned skiff

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – A Coast Guard helicopter rescue crew from Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., rescued four people from a capsized 22-foot skiff 10 miles southeast of the mouth of the Cape Fear River this morning.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector North Carolina received a call from the girlfriend of one of the passengers at 10:26 p.m. last night stating that the recreational vessel Hunter had been overdue since 4 p.m.

Crews aboard a Coast Guard C-130 airplane and an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter responded and searched for three hours before the helicopter crew located the capsized vessel and hoisted the passengers aboard at 3:41 a.m.

The four men went out on a fishing trip at 8 a.m. from the N.C. Wildlife Boat Ramp and the vessel reportedly capsized around 9 a.m. for unknown reasons.

The passengers had been sitting on the overturned hull of the vessel for 19 hours and were sunburned and suffering from mild hypothermia. They were transported to Wilmington International Airport where Wilmington Emergency Medical Services were awaiting.

The Coast Guard encourages all boaters to always check current and forecasted weather conditions before going out on the water and keep and check safety equipment and signaling devices such as a strobe light or flares, a working radio, and an Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon onboard their vessel.

“If they had an EPIRB, we would have found them hours earlier,” said Lt. Ally Shuler, a helicopter pilot at Air Station Elizabeth City who flew in this response. “We would have known as soon as they capsized, and they may have just spent a few hours on the water instead of 19. The EPIRB can dramatically increase the chances of recovery.”

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