Coast Guard rescues missing spear fisherman near Caja de Muertos

7th Coast Guard District NewsSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard rescued a spear fisherman south of Caja de Muertos, Puerto Rico, Monday.

The young man, who had spent Saturday afternoon spear fishing with two friends, was lost at sea for 42 hours.

At approximately 2 p.m. Saturday, his friends noticed he was separated from the group and proceeded to notify the local Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Upon notification, Coast Guard Sector San Juan immediately responded utilizing a contingency of forces, including helicopters and airplane, smallboats, and one cutter. During the search effort, two HH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews were launched from Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen, Puerto Rico, while an HC-130 fixed-wing aircraft crew was utilized from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla.

At approximately 7:45 a.m. Monday, after 42 hours in the water, the missing fisherman was spotted by the crew of a Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter. After completing a two-hour flight pattern, Flight Commander Lt. Bruce Kimmel and Co-pilot Lt. Hector Ramos decided to conduct one final search-leg in the direction of Caja de Muertos. Minutes later, the aircrew, consisting of Petty Officers 2nd Class Moises Rivera and Luis Deliz, identified an individual in the water, who appeared to be holding on to a surfing bodyboard. With very little fuel remaining, the pilots hailed a vessel from the Ponce Police Department and remained on scene just long enough to observe the rescue.

“It was a great team effort by all personnel involved in the rescue,” said Ramos. “Although we were credited with the rescue, it wouldn’t be possible without Coast Guard personnel at Sector San Juan.”

Acting in accordance with Coast Guard search and rescue policy, Coast Guard air assets performed a variety of search and rescue patterns and provided approximately 560 square miles of coverage.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo, who led the search efforts from the sea, searched approximately 215 square miles.

The cutter Key Largo is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in San Juan, whose crew conducts maritime law enforcement, homeland security, and search and rescue missions in support of Coast Guard operations.

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