Coast Guard rescues 56 while assisting Dominican Republic Navy

Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier file photo.

Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier file photo.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier recovered the body of a woman and rescued 56 persons from the water Saturday while assisting a Dominican Republic Navy vessel, following the capsizing of an illegal voyage vessel in the Mona Passage.

The Dominican Republic Navy crew reportedly recovered twelve 12 other persons from the water and from the capsized vessel.

Following rescue efforts, the Dominican Republic Navy vessel embarked all 69 persons, including the deceased female, and transported them to the Dominican Republic.

“This case highlights the dangers of illegal voyages aboard makeshift and grossly overloaded vessels in the Mona Passage,” said Capt. José E. Díaz, acting commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan. “We are saddened that one life was lost in this complex and dangerous rescue, but also proud and thankful for the actions taken by the Coast Guard and Dominican Republic Navy crews which led to saving 68 lives. To anyone thinking of taking part in an illegal voyage, do not take to the sea! These voyages are highly dangerous, and could cost you your life, the life of a loved one or the lives of everyone else in the voyage.”

During a patrol of the Mona Passage Saturday night, the aircrew of a Coast Guard C-27 Spartan aircraft detected a suspected illegal voyage in Mona Passage waters transiting toward Puerto Rico. As the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier and the Dominican Republic Navy vessel Aldebarán (GC-104) responded to the sighting, the aircrew observed that the people aboard were consistently bailing water out from the makeshift vessel. Once the cutter Joseph Napier and the Dominican Republic Navy vessel arrived on scene, the Dominican Republic Navy crew began embarking the people from the makeshift vessel, and in the process, the vessel capsized throwing the remaining persons into the water.

The cutter Joseph Napier crew administered cardio pulmonary resuscitation to the unresponsive female, before she was determined deceased and transferred to the Dominican Republic Navy vessel.

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Borinquen searched for possible additional persons in the water. Search efforts concluded after there were no reports from survivors of anyone else missing.

Family members in the United States inquiring about possible family members interdicted at sea, please contact your local U.S. representative. Relatives located outside the United States please contact your local U.S. Embassy.

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