US and Canadian Coast Guards work together to rescue overdue Canadian fisherman in Lake St. Clair

Coast Guard District 9 NewsCLEVELAND — U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard search and rescue crews worked together to locate and evacuate an Ontario man who had become stranded on Seaway Island in Lake St. Clair, Friday afternoon.

Rescued was a 58-year-old man from Walpole Island, Ontario.

Search and rescue coordinators at Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Trenton, Ontario, were contacted by the Ontario Provincial Police at 11:49 a.m., after they were contacted by the man’s next of kin, who reported him missing.

He had reportedly left at 5 p.m. Thursday on his 14-foot recreational boat. He was reportedly due to return home Thursday night, but, since he had spent the night on the area islands in the past, his family decided to wait until Friday morning before reporting him overdue.

SAR coordinators at JRCC Trenton directed the crews of the Canadian Coast Guard Cutter Cape Dundas and the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel Fancy Canoe to search the area. Also assisting in the search was a boatcrew from the Ontario Provincial Police, as well as an aircrew aboard an HH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Detroit.

At 1:44 p.m., the crew of the cutter Cape Dundas spotted a man waving his yellow lifejacket on Seaway Island, on the north end of Lake St. Clair where the lake meets the St. Clair River. The Air Station Detroit helicopter crew was vectored in, since the Cape Dundas couldn’t reach the man. Once on scene, the helicopter’s rescue swimmer was lowered to the island, where he confirmed it was indeed the overdue man.

The helicopter crew hoisted him aboard the aircraft and transported him to Gull Island, where the Cape Dundas crew could embark him via the ship’s smallboat. He was further transferred to the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel Fancy Canoe and was taken ashore, reportedly in good condition.

According to rescue crews who spoke with him, the man stated that after his boat’s engine had fallen off, he made it to the island and pulled his boat onto the land. He reportedly overturned his boat and took shelter for the night underneath it.

“This successful rescue demonstrates how our two SAR systems continually work in conjunction,” said Dave Elit, a maritime coordinator at JRCC Trenton. “It also demonstrates how well we are able to work together to protect those who live, work and play in the Great Lakes region.”

The U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard advise all mariners to invest in a communications device, and that doesn’t just mean a cell phone — VHF-FM radios are much more reliable in the marine environment and work in areas where cell phones sometimes don’t. When a mayday is broadcast over channel FM Channel 16, the international hailing and distress frequency, multiple response agencies and other nearby boaters can hear the distress call and offer immediate assistance.

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