Coast Guard rescues 4 from sinking vessel off Florida Keys

Feb. 19, 2024

EPIRB

MIAMI — The Coast Guard rescued four people off a sinking boat south of Dry Tortugas National Park early Monday morning.

The individuals were rescued amid heavy seas and weather caused by a passing storm after an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) was activated on board their vessel.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard’s Seventh District Command Center and Sector Key West received the distress signal and diverted the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Charles David, Jr. towards the boat’s position, approximately 35 nautical miles south of the Dry Tortugas. An MH-65 “Dolphin” helicopter crew out of Coast Guard Air Station Miami was also launched to the scene.

The air and cutter crews reached the sinking boat shortly after midnight on Monday. A rescue swimmer was lowered from the helicopter to the sinking boat, where it was determined that one passenger aboard required emergency medical attention. However, heavy seas prevented the air crew from being able to hoist those aboard directly to the helicopter. The crew of the Charles David, Jr., launched a small boat to transfer all individuals off the sinking boat and bring them to the cutter, where the passenger requiring emergency treatment was then hoisted to the aircraft and flown to Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West for further treatment. The other three people were brought back to Key West aboard the cutter.

“We were fortunate to be able to rescue four people and bring them to shore safely, today,” said Capt. Jason Ingram, Sector Commander at U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West. “These were extremely challenging conditions to conduct a rescue operation in. I urge all mariners to frequently check their safety gear and monitor weather forecasts from reliable sources like the National Weather Service. Four lives were saved today due to the quick actions from our Coast Guard crews and because the mariners had an EPIRB onboard that pinpointed the distress location.”

The vessel the four people were rescued from remains adrift at sea. Sector Key West has issued a Special Marine Information Broadcast alerting boaters in the area to the adrift vessel.

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