A 54-year-old man was rescued from his capsized vessel approximately 10 miles southwest of Port Allen, Kauai, Friday.
Coast Guard Sector Honolulu received a distress call at 7:41 a.m., from Wichman’s spouse notifying watchstanders that her husband’s 14-foot Livingston boat was capsized south of Port Allen. Wichman was fishing in the area when he hooked a 230 lb. Ahi that subsequently capsized his boat. When his boat capsized, his leg was caught in the fishing line and he was dragged underwater. After freeing himself, he was able to get on top of the hull and call his wife for help. Sector Honolulu was able to establish communication with Wichman via cell phone and launched a 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew from Coast Guard Station Kauai and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point to the scene.
The Dolphin crew arrived on scene and found Wichman sitting on the hull of his partially submerged vessel. A Coast Guard rescue swimmer was lowered to the water and hoisted Wichman into the helicopter. Sector Honolulu and Station Kauai coordinated with Lihue Airport and local emergency medical personnel to arrange for medical transport to Wilcox Memorial Hospital.
The MLB crew stayed on scene with the capsized vessel until Jordon Ornellas and Abraham Apilado, friends of Wichman arrived on scene with a vessel to help salvage his boat. While assessing the situation to determine if they could right the capsized vessel, Ornellas and Apilado realized that the Ahi was still hooked on the fishing line attached the vessel. They were able to reel in the Ahi, right the vessel and take it in tow back to Port Allen.
“This rescue is a perfect example of why mariners must be sure they have good safety equipment and reliable communications before heading out on the water,” said Lt. Jessica Mickelson, Sector Honolulu’s Public Affairs Officer. “Thankfully Mr. Wichman was still able to use his cell phone after capsizing and entering the water. Sector Honolulu was able to work in conjunction with 911 dispatch to get a GPS position of the capsized vessel from Mr. Wichman’s cell phone enabling Coast Guard rescue crews to arrive on scene at the exact location of distress instead of having to conduct a search. At the end of the day, we couldn’t have asked for a better rescue. Mr. Wichman was delivered safely to shore with minimal injuries and he and his friends will have quite the indisputable fish tale to tell.”
The Coast Guard recommends all mariners ensure they are prepared before heading out on the water. This includes having appropriate safety and communications equipment, checking local weather conditions and ensuring the vessel is seaworthy. For more information on boating safety visit www.uscgboating.org.
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