SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew rescued a Dallas, Texas, boater from a life raft early Sunday morning. The rescue happened approximately 30 nautical miles east of Samana, Dominican Republic.
The Dallas man rescued was Justin Smith, 46.
"This case demonstrates how being prepared beforehand can save your life,” Lt. Cmdr. Adam Mullin, MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircraft commander said in a Coast Guard media release. “The survivor was in a life raft with a VHF radio, strobe lights, flares, a life vest, and an EPIRB, which made him highly visible and easy to locate. We were able to get on scene, quickly located the survivor, and rescued him with the help of our rescue swimmer."
Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a Mayday radio transmission from Smith at 3 a.m. Sunday. Smith told them he deployed and embarked his life raft after his 26-foot catamaran capsized and sank while traveling from Fajardo, Puerto Rico, to Samana, Dominican Republic.
They launched the helicopter from Air Station Borinquen to search for the reported distress and provide any needed rescue assistance.
The helicopter crew arrived on scene and found Smith on a life raft. The crew deployed its rescue swimmer, who was able to reach and secure Smith to the aircraft rescue basket and hoist him safely onboard the helicopter.
The aircrew transported Smith to Coast Guard Air Station in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, where he was released after declining medical assistance from awaiting emergency medical service personnel.