Coast Guard, tow boat work to save life, then boat

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – The Coast Guard and Towboat U.S., a commercial salvage company, worked together to save a fisherman’s life about 16 miles south of Atlantic City, today.

Rescued was Gregory Cooper, 45, of New Bedford, Mass.

The Coast Guard received a call at 8:28 p.m. Monday from the captain of the 42-foot fishing boat Linda C, who reported the boat was taking on water, but was not in any immediate danger.

About an hour later, no progress had been made in making an onboard repair of the leak, and weather conditions worsened.

The Coast Guard launched the Coast Guard Cutter Finback, homeported in Cape May, N.J., a rescue boat crew from Station Atlantic City, and an HH-65C Dolphin helicopter rescue crew from Air Station Atlantic City to assist the fisherman.

The fisherman attempted to stabilize the boat by dropping the anchor but was unsuccessful.

Tow Boat U.S. dispatched a 62-foot boat crew to assist the fisherman. Once on scene, the salvage crew tied up to the sinking fishing boat and attempted to contact the fisherman to begin dewatering operations. When the fisherman didn’t respond, the Coast Guard air crew lowered a rescue swimmer to investigate.

“All of us had a real bad feeling that the fisherman was still in the boat,” said Lt. John K. Howard, one of the helicopter pilots who responded.

With no sign of the fisherman, Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Chris Razoyk, the rescue swimmer, used a crash ax to break open the pilot house.

“I tried my best to find the fisherman in the cabin, but I didn’t see him,” Razoyk said. “It took me a while to look, because I wanted to be sure he wasn’t in the boat. Then, the pilot spotted him out of the corner of his eye.”

The helicopter crew hoisted Razoyk off the sinking fishing boat and placed him near the fisherman in the water.

“When he saw me, he was like a deer in headlights,” Razoyk said. “He was definitely glad to see me though. The look on his face was priceless.”

The fisherman suffered from signs of hypothermia and was transferred to the trauma unit at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center.

The crew from Tow Boat U.S. pulled the Linda C into shallow water and grounded the vessel.

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