Three men were rescued Sunday 25 miles off Louisiana as they fought off sharks, a day after their boat sank, Coast Guard officials said.
The trio were on a Saturday fishing trip on a 24-foot center console boat and were reported overdue to Coast Guard watchstanders in New Orleans that evening when they did not return. A coordinated launch of aircraft and boat crews began a search over about 1,250 square miles.
During the search, an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi spotted all three boaters in the water. A Coast Guard 45-foot response-boat medium crew from the station at Venice, La., arrived on scene and saw two of the boaters fending off sharks, with wounds to their hands, and pulled them out of the water.
An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans hoisted the third man from the water. His companions who were picked up by the Venice boatcrew were then hoisted to the helicopter, and flown to University Medical Center New Orleans. All three were reported in stable condition, according to the Coast Guard.
All three men were wearing lifejackets, and one had symptoms of hypothermia at the time of the rescue. Sea surface temperatures in the area were reported in the mid-70s Fahrenheit. Their boat had sunk around 10 a.m. Saturday, leaving them afloat at sea without any communication devices, the Coast Guard said.
Time stamps on video released by the Coast Guard indicate the rescue happened in mid-afternoon Sunday.
All three boaters were wearing lifejackets and one was experiencing signs of hypothermia at the time of the rescue. Their 24-foot center console boat reportedly sank at approximately 10 a.m. Saturday morning, stranding them without communication devices.
"We searched an area roughly the size of Rhode Island and are thankful to have found these missing boaters," said Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Keefe, a Sector New Orleans search and rescue mission coordinator.
"If the family member had not notified the Coast Guard, and if these three boaters were not wearing life jackets, this could've been a completely different outcome. We appreciate the assistance of the boating public, who were instrumental in helping identify possible areas where these boaters could have been operating before the vessel became in distress."