Coast Guard, state, local agencies rescue overdue boater near Marsh Island

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NEW ORLEANS — The Coast Guard, along with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the St. Mary’s Parish Sheriff’s Office, rescued a male boater reported overdue near Marsh Island, Thursday.

Rescued was Chad Woodburn, who was last known to be in the vicinity of Cypremort Point Vermillion Bay, Wednesday evening.

Coast Guard Sector New Orleans watchstanders received a report from the St. Mary’s Parish Sheriff’s Office of an overdue boater. Woodburn’s father told St. Mary’s Parish Sherriff’s Office his son called him at approximately 8:30 p.m. reporting that his 14-foot boat was disabled approximately two miles from the launch and that someone was coming to help tow him in. The father did not hear from Woodburn after that call and discovered his truck and trailer still at the boat launch.

Sector New Orleans watchstanders issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast and directed the launch of a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans and a 29-foot response boatcrew from Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Morgan City. Boatcrews from the LDWF and St. Mary’s Parish Sherriff’s Office aided in the search.

The boatcrew from MSU Morgan City located Woodburn while conducting their initial search. The Coast Guard, St. Mary’s Parish Sherriff’s Office and the LDWF searched approximately four hours and covered 12 miles of track lines combined with aerial observation of the marsh and inlets.

“Local agencies coordinated well with Coast Guard search-and-rescue controllers to efficiently find the missing boater and tow him to safety,” said Lt. Sharon Mezulis, a command duty officer at Sector New Orleans. “The information provided by the family on the boaters fishing activities was a key factor in a successful rescue.”

The Coast Guard recommends all boaters and water enthusiasts file a float plan with family, friends or the harbormaster. Include all information that would help rescuers in case of an emergency; how many people on board, where you are going, a planned time of departure and return, and a description of your boat.

“I would recommend boaters carry handheld VHF-FM radios and flares,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Shannon, a boatswain’s mate at MSU Morgan City. “For long trips, definitely bring along additional fuel.”

While many boaters rely on cell phones for emergency communications on the water, VHF-FM marine-band radios are much more reliable in the marine environment and work in areas where cell phones may not, since cell phones can experience gaps in coverage and limited battery life.

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