Coast Guard rescues 4 missing boaters

45 Foot Response BoatST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The Coast Guard found four missing boaters aboard their 26-foot boat, 23 miles southwest of Big Marco Pass, Florida, Monday.

Lafayette Beers, Joel Eerdmans, Brian Kekstan, and Richard Melema or Grand Rapids, Michigan were rescued with no reported injuries.

At 5:30 a.m. watchstanders from Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a report from a friend of the four men stating they had gone deep sea fishing on Sunday, were due back at dark, but had not returned.

A C-130 Hercules air crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Florida, was launched and found the boaters at approximately 7:55 a.m. The four men used a flare to alert rescue crews to their location. They were out range for cellular and marine radio communication.

The air crew stayed on scene until a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew from Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach, Florida, arrived, and put the boat in tow.

Near Capri Pass, Florida, a commercial salvage boatcre took the boat in tow and transported the men back to shore.

“Having the proper safety equipment is of the upmost importance,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Bonneau, a search and rescue coordinator at the sector. “Setting off the flare alerted our crews to their location, and turned a potentially four hour search covering 3,000 miles into a three minute search.”

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