Coast Guard rescues Juneau hunters on Douglas Island

The crew of an MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter from Air Station Sitka checks the condition of the Jayhawk while it refuels after a rescue mission in Juneau, Nov. 29, 2010. The helicopter crew rescued two men who were hunting and got lost in the Juneau woods for nearly two days soaking wet and cold. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jon-Paul Rios

The MH-60 crew refuels in Juneau after rescuing two.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew located and rescued two missing hunters on the west side of Douglas Island at 12:30 p.m. Monday, and were safely flown to Juneau and awaiting emergency medical personnel.

Saffron Hayes, 25, and Lee Ferguson, 55, both Juneau residents were reported to the Alaska State Troopers as overdue from their hunting trip near Hilda Creek Sunday. Hayes and Ferguson were cold and wet when rescued but no injuries were reported.

Coast Guard Sector Juneau Command Center received a request for assistance at 9:16 a.m. and immediately launched a Coast Guard Station Juneau 25-foot response boat to conduct a shoreline search of the island. The Sitka-based rescue helicopter was diverted from an on-going flight at 10:55 a.m. to assist as well.

“The rescue was overall a success despite the inclement weather buffering the aircraft with 30 mph winds, snow and 1/4 mile visibility,” said Cmdr. Dan Youngbert, rescue pilot and operations boss for Air Station Sitka. “Our everyday training contributed to the overall success of the rescue, helping us locate and safely hoist the individuals prior to them possibly succumbing to hypothermia as they were extremely wet and cold.”

Juneau Mountain Search and Rescue, Douglas Mountain Search and Rescue, Southeast Alaska Search Dogs, Eagle Crest Ski Patrol and the Juneau Snowmobile Club in coordination with Alaska State Troopers conducted searches Sunday but due to weather and reduced visibility, active searches were suspended until Monday morning.

Hunters and all outdoorsmen should keep in mind the following basic principles while enjoying the outdoors:

• Tell a trusted individual where you will be going and never go alone.

• Carry a VHF-FM marine radio and/or an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. Cell phones are limited in their range especially in the Alaska wilderness or out at sea.

• Dress properly and be prepared for the worst possible conditions. Protect yourself from getting wet and the possibility of hypothermia.

• Check weather forecasts before leaving home.

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