Coast Guard rescues three duck hunters near Whittier, Alaska

Long Island, Qayak Chief rescue duck hunters in Prince William Sound

The crews of the Coast Guard Cutter Long Island and the charter vessel Qayak Chief rescue two duck hunters and their canoe after they capsized the craft and went in the water Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, in Harrison Lagoon near Whittier, Alaska. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Coast Guard Cutter Long Island.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Long Island and a good Samaritan vessel rescued three members of a duck hunting expedition Saturday in Harrison Lagoon near Whittier.

Two of the hunters overturned their canoe while trying to retrieve a duck. They youngest member of the expedition was on land near a cabin, witnessed the event, and called 911. The 911 call was rerouted to the Coast Guard command center in Juneau who dispatched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Kodiak and diverted the Long Island from a patrol in the region.

The men we able to right their canoe and climb back aboard but were unable to row effectively due to the onset of hypothermia. They were exposed to 42 degree water for approximately 40 minutes. The Long Island arrived on scene along with the good Samaritan vessel Qayak Chief and recovered the two men from the canoe.

“They were in bad shape and suffering from extreme hypothermia,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Kuzik, a boatswain’s mate aboard the Long Island. “When we found them they could not move and were going in and out of consciousness.”

The Qayak Chief transported the two men to civilian emergency medical services in Whittier. Three medically trained crewmembers from the Long Island went along on the transit to Whittier to provide medical support en route.

“We were able to provide basic care and begin the warming process while we were on our way back,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Erik Hanson, the ship’s emergency medical technician and a Coast Guard gunner’s mate. “The victims showed dramatic recovery in the short time we had them aboard and it is a great feeling to get people safely out of the water without loss of life.”

The true hero of the dramatic rescue was the son of one of the victim’s, the 10-year-old boy who made the 911 call.
“The young man never lost his composure and knew what to do,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Deaver, a food service specialist aboard the Long Island. “He certainly saved his father and uncle’s lives.”

The Long Island dispatched their small boat to retrieve the boy from shore and took him to Whittier to meet his family. The Coast Guard helicopter crew was released from the case prior to arriving on scene.

The Coast Guard Cutter Long Island is a 110-foot Island-class patrol boat homeported in Valdez, Alaska.

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