Coast Guard stops unmanned boat after operators fall out

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Coast Guard and a Good Samaritan assisted two boaters who were ejected from their 17-foot boat near Lynnhaven Inlet, Virginia Beach, Va., 9:20 p.m. Wednesday.

The two boaters were rescued by a Good Samaritan after falling overboard, but their boat continued to run in circles, creating a hazard to anyone nearby.

Coast Guard boat crews conducting training aboard a 25-foot response boat and a 45-foot response boat from Station Little Creek, Virginia Beach, Va., heard the report from Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads and diverted to assist.

Coast Guardsmen threw heaving lines to stop the boat’s propellers, but when that didn’t work, they pulled alongside and used a boat hook on the throttle to stop it.

Most boats have a kill switch which will cause the engine to stop if the driver is thrown from the vessel.

“We recommend that you use your kill switch at all times when the boat is underway,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Poston, a coxswain at Station Little Creek. “If they had used their kill switch, this situation could have been prevented.”

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