Coast Guard Rescues Man From Sinking Boat

BOCA GRANDE, Fla., – Rescue crews from Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach, Fla., and Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla., rescued a 55-year-old man at about 12:30 a.m., Saturday, from a 29-foot sailboat that ran aground and sank near Johnson Shoals in Boca Grande Pass, Fla.

Jean-Francois Duplaa, of Naples, Fla., was rescued after Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach watchstanders received a call from Tow Boat U.S. at 10:05 p.m., Friday, reporting that they had located a a capsized dinghy in Pelican Bay, Fla. Station Fort Myers Beach launched a 33-foot response-boat crew at 10:07 p.m., and when the boat crew arrived onscene at 10:50 p.m., they discovered a small debris field that included flip-flop sandals and clothing.

As the Coast Guard boat crew began searching for a possible person in the water, Tow Boat U.S. reported that they had located Duplaa clinging to the mast of the sunken sailboat “Jlou-Jlou” in nearby Johnson Shoal, and that the dinghy belonged to Duplaa. Neither the Coast Guard vessel, nor the Tow Boat U.S. vessel could remove Duplaa from the sunken sailboat without risk of running aground due to draft constraints in the area.

Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach contacted watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., at 11:02 p.m., Friday, who immediately requested assistance from a Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater rescue-helicopter crew.

The helicopter crew arrived onscene at 12:07 a.m. Saturday, and located Duplaa clinging to the mast of the sunken vessel with four- to five-foot waves crashing over him. The Coast Guard rescue swimmer was lowered to the vessel and assisted with hoisting Duplaa safely to the helicopter.

The rescue-helicopter crew brought Duplaa to the Charlotte County Airport, in Punta Gorda, Fla., at 1:34 a.m., Saturday, and transferred him to EMS. Duplaa was then taken by EMS to Charlotte Regional Medical Center, in Punta Gorda.

The Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater rescue crew was Lt. Cathy Cross, pilot, Lt. Starr Parmley, co-pilot, Petty Officer 1st Class Curt Rohrich, rescue swimmer, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Lassiter, flight mechanic.

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