ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Coast Guard rescued two people in stormy weather Saturday after their boat ran onto rocks in Pavlof Harbor, southwest of Juneau.
An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Sitka located and hoisted the man and woman, who were stranded on a beach in low-visibility conditions. Both survivors, who were exhibiting symptoms of hypothermia, were flown to awaiting EMS in Juneau for medical evaluation.
Watchstanders in the Sector Juneau command center received the initial distress call over VHF-FM Channel 16 at about 12:40 a.m. from the survivors aboard the landing craft Windchaser, stating they were preparing to abandon their boat. They indicated their aluminum landing craft was getting slammed against rocks, and they were wearing life jackets. The Coast Guard then lost communication with the survivors.
The Coast Guard launched the helicopter crew, along with a response boat crew from Station Juneau and Coast Guard Cutter Pike, as well as issuing an urgent marine information broadcast to alert mariners in the area.
The helicopter crew arrived on scene and immediately located the survivors.
“Thankfully the mariners had handheld flares that we could see through the driving rain,” said Lt. Cody Eager, co-pilot for the case. “Without those light sources, our chances of seeing them would have been drastically reduced due to extremely poor visibility.”
Conditions around the time of the rescue included gale warnings with sustained winds at 25-35 mph with gusts up to 40, 5-foot seas, low visibility, an air temperature of 53 degrees and a water temperature of 51.