Coast Guard rescues boaters from Chesapeake Bay

BALTIMORE – The Coast Guard rescued three people 18 miles southwest of Tangier Island near the San Marcos wreck in the Chesapeake Bay, Md., Tuesday.

Rescued were Fred Munford, of Belle Haven, Va., Jeffery Meers and Michel Pinkenton.

Hallie Munford the mother of the owner and operator of an 18-foot fishing boat, contacted Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads watch standers at approximately 4:03 p.m. reporting her son’s boat was taking on water with three people aboard. The Coast Guard was unable to contact Fred Munford’s pre-paid cell phone. Munford’s wife, who reported being in contact with the vessel via text messaging, reported that before her husband left, he had told her where he was going. She also stated the vessel did not have navigation lights and his cell phone was running low on battery power.

Crews from Coast Guard Station Crisfield, Md. and Air Station Elizabeth City, Va., launched and searched the reported area for several hours.

A 25-foot response boat crew from Coast Guard Station Crisfield arrived on scene at approximately 10:24 p.m., removed all three passengers, and assisted with dewatering the vessel. Once the vessel was dewatered, the station towed the boat and took the crew to the Pungoteague Creek boat ramp.

There were no reports of injuries.

“They didn’t have a radio but he did tell his wife where he was going,” said Lt. Taz Sears, a search and rescue coordinator at Coast Guard Sector Baltimore. “Having that modified float plan is what potentially saved his life.”

“Having a working VHF radio helps out a lot. In this case the people were using text messaging on a pre-paid cell phone, which limits tracking capabilities,” said Petty Officer 1st Class John Jordon, the executive officer at Coast Guard Station Crisfield.

The Coast Guard urges mariners to outfit their boat with a functioning marine-band radio. Using channel 16 is the most reliable way to get help in the event of an emergency on the water.

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