Monday, June 27, 2011

Coast Guard rescues Lake Erie boater afloat for five hours

This morning a boat crew from U.S. Coast Guard’s Station Ashtabula and an air crew from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Detroit rescued a 55-year-old male in Lake Erie about two miles from Geneva State Park.

Crew members aboard the charter boat Highland Locust notified the Coast Guard at about 6:40 a.m. of a possible person in the water in Lake Erie.

The unnamed man was not wearing a life jacket.

Responding, a Coast Guard 25-foot response boat from the agency’s Ashtabula station and an Air Station Detroit MH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter were both sent to search for the missing person.

The helicopter crew found the man at about 8:30 a.m. and relayed his position to the boat crew. This boat crew then transported the man to EMS waiting at Geneva State Park.

While in transport, the man claimed that he had been out trolling with his dog, and had become disoriented and fallen off the stern at about 5 a.m. He also said that he had been treading for approximately four to five hours before being rescued.

“Boaters need to be responsible for the safety of themselves, their passengers and other boaters,” said Frank Jennings, Jr., recreational boating safety program manager for the Ninth Coast Guard District in Cleveland.

That means not only having the proper number of life jackets onboard, but wearing them whenever underway. It is much more difficult to find and don a life jacket during an emergency. Boaters need to be prepared ahead of time.”

At about 1 p.m., a good Samaritan was able to locate the vessel, with the dog still aboard, and pilot it to Geneva State Park, the Coast Guard said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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