EPIRB leads Coast Guard to distressed mariner

SABINE, Texas — Following a distress from an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) onboard a 34-foot sailing vessel, the Coast Guard found a missing 80-year-old man Tuesday who had departed Houston ten days ago.

The Eighth Coast Guard District command center received the distress alert located approximately 115 miles south of Sabine at 9:30 a.m. The Coast Guard contacted the owner of the EPIRB and was notified by a family member that the 80-year-old owner of the sailing vessel, Enchantress, departed Houston approximately ten days ago and was headed toward Kemah, Texas.

A Coast Guard MH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter and crew from Coast Guard Air Station Houston and an HU-25 Falcon rescue plane and crew from Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi launched and located the owner and his sailing vessel at approximately 12:30 p.m. The man was hoisted and transported to Coast Guard Air Station Houston where he met by ambulance and transported to South East Memorial Hospital.

"The gentleman said over the radio to us that he was 'unable to fend for himself.' We safely hoisted him into the helicopter, and as soon as we started to hoist the swimmer, lightening struck within close proximity of the aircraft. The storm front began moving in and definitely made the situation more tedious, but we fell back on our training and the mission was a success," said Lt. Aaron Mader, air craft commander, Coast Guard Air Station Houston.

The Coast Guard reminds mariners to have a registered EPIRB onboard the vessel and to file a float plan with family members and friends.

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