A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew rescued a Good Samaritan boater from the water Monday night, after his vessel ran aground, capsized and sank while rendering assistance to a disabled vessel just off Point Picua in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.
“Having the right equipment accessible helped this case have a positive outcome,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jim Cepa, Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin aircraft commander. “The gentlemen was wearing his life jacket, which greatly enhanced his survivability and likelihood of detection from our search assets. Our crew was fortunate to be able to help this gentlemen return to safety.”
Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a call from a 911 emergency operator relaying a report from a source who claimed there seemed to be a disabled vessel near Point Picua and two red flares had been sighted coming from the vessel.
A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen and a Boat Station San Juan 45-foot Response Boat Medium responded to search for the reported distress and provide any needed rescue assistance.
The Coast Guard crews arrived on scene and reported there was a vessel that was just arriving to shore. The original reporting source, who remained at the scene, relayed that the vessel was the one originally reported to be disabled and that there was still a person in the water from a another vessel that had capsized.
The Coast Guard helicopter crew proceeded to conduct a shoreline search of the area and shortly thereafter located a man in the water waving his hands for assistance. The crew deployed their rescue swimmer via the aircraft’s hoist line, who was able to reach and secure the survivor to his rescue harness and hoist him safely onboard the aircraft.
Following the rescue, the survivor relayed to the Coast Guard aircrew that he had gone out aboard his 10-foot boat to render assistance by taking spare engine to a disabled vessel that had fired two flares. In the process, his vessel ran aground and was struck by a large wave that capsized the boat and forced him into the water until his rescue.
The Coast Guard aircrew transported the survivor to the Luis Munoz Marin Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where awaiting Emergency Medical Service personnel received him for further evaluation.