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JUNEAU, Alaska â€” Coast Guard and other search and rescue personnel rescued two mariners in the vicinity of Point Amelia, about 25 miles northwest of Sitka, Saturday.
According to one of the rescued men, their 28-foot fishing vessel, the Kaitlin Rai, sank near Beaver Point Friday afternoon, leaving one man stranded in a fishing tote and the other in the water. The survivor in the water located a survival suit in the debris and donned it, he was later able to swim to shore and flag down rescuers by waving his arms.
Coast Guard Sector Juneau watchstanders received an initial report of the vessel overdue on a trip from Sitka to Cape Edgecumbe and back late Friday night. Watchstanders notified Air Station Sitka personnel and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew launched within an hour.
The Jayhawk crew returned to Sitka after an unsuccessful search, due to darkness and unfavorable weather conditions.
A second helicopter crew conducted a search at first light, and Coast Guard personnel contacted Sitka Mountain Rescue and the Alaska State Troopers for assistance in the search, as well as a boat crew from Aids to Navigation Team Sitka.
Shortly after an Air Station Sitka aircrew began a third search, the crew of the Alaska State Trooper patrol vessel Courage located a survivor on the beach at Point Amelia.
The Jayhawk crew safely hoisted the survivor, and as the helicopter returned to Sitka they gathered details on the last known location of the second mariner.
Coast Guard search and rescue operators used the information to revise search patterns for the missing man, and an aircrew began a fourth search of the area.
Approximately two hours after the rescue of the first survivor, the second man was found floating in the vicinity of Eagle Rock by a good Samaritan fishing vessel crew, who notified the Coast Guard.
The Jayhawk crew arrived on scene, safely hoisted the second survivor and flew him to Sitka for medical treatment.
“This case owes its success to cooperation with our partner search and rescue agencies, as well as the good Samaritan crew,” said Vince Grochowski, a search and rescue operator with Coast Guard Sector Juneau. “In a challenging environment like Alaska’s, teamwork is the key to everyone getting home safely.”
Both men were listed in stable condition at the time of their transfer to emergency medical personnel.