CLEARWATER (FOX 13) - The Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater rescued three people from a sunken fishing vessel on Wednesday.
A Coast Guard sector in Mobile, Alabama received a mayday call at 1:44 a.m. Wednesday from the crew of the Marion J, a 38-foot fishing vessel, explaining that their boat was taking on water.
A girlfriend of one of the crew members told Sector Mobile that there were three people aboard the vessel, and the boat was approximately 35 miles southwest of Cape San Blas near the Florida panhandle.
The fishing boat sank, forcing the crew to board a small life raft.
Four crews from multiple states were involved in the search for the three men. The Coast Guard sector in Panama City sent a 45-foot response boat. The Mobile crew set out in an Ocean Sentry search-and rescue-plane. New Orleans and Clearwater each sent helicopter crews.
The Clearwater MH-60 helicopter crew successfully located the three marooned fishermen at 4:40 a.m.
Lt. Dan Seymour, Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 helicopter pilot, explained the moment he and his crew found the men: "Probably 20 miles out we saw a strobe light, and they let off a hand flair."
The hand flair gave Lt. Seymour and his crew the visual they needed to make contact with the men. They got on scene, saw the orange-colored raft, and began rescue efforts. One of the crew members jumped into the water, checked the men for injuries, and hoisted them into the aircraft.
The fishermen were flown to Air Station Clearwater and met with EMS with no injuries to report.