Coast Guard Rescues Man and 14 Year Old Girl off Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crews of a Coast Guard helicopter and of marine units from Puerto Rico law enforcement agencies combined efforts to save a man and a 14 year-old girl Tuesday in waters off Crash Boat Beach, Aguadilla, approximately one nautical mile north northwest from the shoreline.

The survivors, a 25 year-old man, resident of Moca, and the 14 year-old girl, resident of Aguada, experienced engine problems and became adrift aboard a personal watercraft. After realizing they were drifting away from shore, the man, who was operating the personal watercraft and the girl, who was a passenger on board, abandoned the personal watercraft to swim towards land. They were both wearing black personal flotation devices.

The girl was last seen by her parents at approximately 3:50p.m. in Crash Boat Beach, after she climbed aboard the personal watercraft with the rescued man, and saw them heading in a southern direction.

Coast Guard Search and Rescue Coordinators at Sector San Juan received call at 6:40 p.m. from Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces for Rapid Action personnel in Aguadilla, who requested assistance to search for the man and girl who were overdue to return from the recreational ride.

Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen launched a HH-65 Dolphin helicopter to search for the overdue personal watercraft riders. The Coast Guard helicopter crew located the survivors at 7:40 p.m., and by utilizing night vision goggles, they were able to see the survivors in the water waving at them for assistance. The helicopter crew deployed their rescue swimmer who brought the survivors together and assessed their condition, after they had been swimming for approximately three hours.

Coast Guard Search and Rescue Coordinators relayed the position of the survivors and the rescue swimmer to Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine units participating in the search efforts. The marine units diverted and arrived on scene within minutes. The crew of the Department and Natural and Environmental Resources marine unit brought the man and the girl on board and transported them to the Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces For Rapid Action boat station in Aguadilla, while the rescue swimmer was hoisted back on board the HH-65 Dolphin helicopter.

“Both survivors are very lucky to be alive and just as lucky to have been found,” said Lt. Paul Coleman, Air Station Borinquen HH-65 Dolphin helicopter pilot. “It was very difficult to see them in the water because they were wearing black personal flotation devices at night without any reflective material. Boaters need to realize that it is not a good idea to abandon your vessel or personal watercraft when in a distress situation. A personal watercraft or vessel is much easier to locate than a person in the water, and they should be equipped with signaling devices, like day and night time flares, to utilize in a distress situation and facilitate being rescued.”

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