NEWS from BoatUS
Boat Owners Association of The United States
880 S. Pickett St., Alexandria, VA 22304
BoatUS Press Room at www.BoatUS.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: D. Scott Croft, 703-461-2864, SCroft@BoatUS.com
Vessel Assist Radio Dispatcher Helps Save Six From Sinking Vessel
Towing Supervisor Joseph Medeiros Keeps Rescuers on the Right Track
At the Vessel Assist 24/7 dispatch center in Newport Beach, CA, Towing Operations Supervisor Joseph Medeiros handles dozens of routine requests for assistance from boaters each day who may have engine troubles, run out of gas, or need a tow back to port. But on Sunday, August 7, a call for assistance from a 19-foot Chris Craft powerboat turned all but routine. By the end of the day, Medeiros helped save the lives of six persons aboard the small craft which had been attempting to return from Avalon Harbor on Southern California 's Catalina Island to San Pedro , CA.
About seven miles out of Avalon, the vessel hit a large wave and became disabled. Two aboard received minor injuries. The small boat's inexperienced operator, who owned the vessel for only a month, called the Vessel Assist dispatch center via cell phone for assistance. As Medeiros began to determine the precise location of the vessel by coaching the operator on how to use the boat's GPS, the Chris Craft began taking on water. What started as a routine request for a tow back to port now became life threatening.
Medeiros advised the operator to have everyone don life jackets and immediately notified USCG Sector Los Angeles, who contacted the Chris Craft via VHF radio and commenced SAR operations. Hearing the incident over the radio and with a vessel on patrol, Baywatch Cabrillo, the local lifeguard agency, also commenced rescue operations.
While communications between all of the rescuers, including Coast Guard helicopters, response vessels and several lifeguard agencies continued via VHF radio, Medeiros kept cell phone communications open, but soon heard screaming over the phone line before it went dead along with its VHF radio signal.
Medeiros immediately advised the Coast Guard that they most likely were now searching for an overturned or sunken vessel – a very different target to search for in conditions that were deteriorating. About ten minutes later using the GPS coordinates Medeiros had helped to provide, Baywatch Cabrillo located the capsized boat with all six persons in the water – with only five life jackets among them. All were successfully recovered and returned to shore with only minor injuries.
Captain Matt Lutton of Baywatch Cabrillo later thanked Medeiros for his efforts saying, “Conditions were getting rough and by staying on the phone line when the vessel capsized, it helped us find them quickly, possibly saving their lives and speeding their recovery.”
Vessel Assist is the west coast operation of the nation's largest on-the-water, recreational boat towing and assistance network, BoatUS Towing Services, which also includes TowBoatUS For more information visit http://www.BoatUS.com/towing or call 800-395-2628.