Coast Guardsman has first rescues; saves 3 in 13 hours

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HOUSTON — A newly qualified Coast Guard flight mechanic, and Houston native, helped rescue three people in the Houston-Galveston area Thursday and Friday.

The flight mechanic, Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen A. Cantu, hoisted two men to safety from a capsized boat in Northwest Trinity Bay Thursday evening and less than 24 hours later Cantu was back in the helicopter going to rescue a man suffering from chest pains 85 miles southeast of Galveston.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston coordinated the rescues. They launched the aircrew aboard an MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Houston and a boatcrew aboard a 25-foot response boat from Coast Guard Station Houston for the first rescue. The crews located the survivors sitting on top of their overturned boat at 8:10 p.m. The survivors were hoisted and transferred to Chambers County emergency medical services at RWJ Airpark.

Friday morning a passenger aboard the Weight N Sea, a 40-foot boat, contacted Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston watchstanders reporting that a 26-year old man was suffering from chest pain, numbness in his limbs and low blood sugar.

The helicopter crew was launched again to rescue the ailing man. A Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi, HU-25 Falcon jet crew provided communications for the rescue. The rescue crew located and hoisted the man at 9 a.m. and transferred him to University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston at about 10 a.m.

“In the moment none of it really registered, I was just falling on all the training I’d done through the qualification process,” said Cantu. “It was just like every other hoist I’d done, expect once you get them in the cabin and you’re looking face to face with the person, it just clicks, and you realize you’re helping somebody. It’s what I joined to do, and it was an awesome feeling being able to help.”

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