Good Samaritan rescues 6 who abandoned fiery, sinking boat

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – A good Samaritan rescued six people who abandoned ship and got into a life raft following a fire aboard their 37-foot fishing vessel Treehouse, Thursday morning, approximately 40 miles east of St. Augustine, Florida.

Rescued were Bucky Odom, the owner of the vessel, John Fields, Trey Odom, Lane Nelson, Chris Nelson and John Thomas.

Fields reportedly suffered a leg injury during the incident and was evaluated by emergency medical technicians upon arrival at Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor in St. Augustine.

A boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Mayport, Florida, recovered the mens’ life raft to avoid any possible false distress reports if spotted at sea.

The boat has not been located, leading responders to believe it sank. If any boaters in the area find the boat, debris or pollution, they are urged to notify the Coast Guard of what they found and the location.

Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville watchstanders received a mayday call via VHF radio at approximately 6 a.m. Thursday from the boaters aboard the Treehouse.

The watchstanders received only a partial GPS location of the boaters before VHF signal was lost, but when the men manually activated their Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon it provided response crews their precise location.

An EPIRB is a safety device that transmits an electronic emergency distress signal and GPS coordinates when it is manually or automatically activated. The signal allows the Coast Guard and other rescue agencies to pinpoint a boater’s exact location and, when properly registered, identifying information on the vessel and owner.

“This is a perfect example of the value of EPIRBs,” said Jeff Royer, command duty officer at Sector Jacksonville. “Without the GPS coordinates provided by the EPIRB, we would have been faced with an enormous search area, potentially decreasing the likelihood the men would be found quickly.”

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