During a recent crew change in King’s Bay off the Florida coast, eagle-eyed mariners spotted a distressed family of boaters and sprang into action.
The survey vessel Wolf River, returning from a crew change on the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock-operated Padre Island, diverted course when the crew saw a group of people whose vessel was taking on water in the bay. Immediately, all hands – including SIU Chief Engineer Oscar Palacios – worked to rescue the family of six (two adults and four children).
Using two life rings and a rescue net, the mariners brought everyone on board the survey boat safely. Thankfully, the children were all wearing their personal flotation devices properly, aiding in their rescue.
Palacios said, “We knew what to do. We knew what steps to take. The kids were screaming for help, so even more training came into play by telling them to calm down: ‘We got you. You’ll be safe’.”
According to Palacios, the mother was completely exhausted, and ready to give up once the children were on board. The crew encouraged her to keep trying, and successfully got her on deck.
“We saved six lives, and we owe it to training,” he said.
The Coast Guard cutter Sea Dragon – which had been contacted by the Padre Island – arrived a few minutes later, and the family was transferred from the Wolf River to the Coast Guard vessel, which transported them to Nassau County personnel.
“In the Florida/Southeast Georgia area, we remind boaters that during this time of year, the possibility of hypothermia still exists,” said Kristian Sova, Coast Guard Cutter Sea Dragon commanding officer. “If you can, remain with your boat and try to remain together as a group. This greatly increases the likelihood of first responders finding you if you’re ever in the need of assistance; this was a very fortunate outcome, special thanks to those involved in this rescue.”