Passengers on Ship Island ferry witnessed burning boat, rescue near Gulfport
GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - We’re learning more details about Saturday’s Coast Guard rescue near Gulfport from ferry boat passengers who watched the chaos unfold as they prepared to help any way they could.
Seven people and a dog were on board a burning boat when they sent out a mayday call around 9:30 a.m. Not too far away, the crew of the Capt. Pete with Ship Island Excursions overheard the call for help and turned around.
The Capt. Pete was loaded down with ferry passengers headed out for a day of fun at Ship Island. But the mood all changed when they spotted the burning boat. Suddenly, everyone started thinking of how they could help.
“Everybody was pretty concerned before we got there and before the Coast Guard was there,” ferry passenger Jade McLeod said. “There were a lot of women on board, they went and found the first aid kits. Anybody who had any kind of training in treating burns, they all gathered together. We were all ready to help anybody on board who needed help. We all made room.”
Among those on board ready to help were some off duty firefighters trained in swift water rescue and a group of trauma nurses visiting the coast from Arkansas.
“Even though there were a good many passengers on there, we were all prepared to help in anyway we could. We were fortunate the Coast Guard was there because they got there in time and that was the best case scenario.”
The ferry was about 100 yards away from the people in the water when Coast Guard members arrived. That’s when the Capt. Pete backed off to let the experts do their jobs.
The Coast Guard aircrew immediately deployed a rescue life raft, and a boat crew moved in to bring the seven people and their pup back to shore.
“Today officially kicks off National Safe Boating Week. The prudent actions of those aboard the Hatteras – hailing mayday to the Coast Guard and all personnel wearing life jackets, coupled with the quick actions of the aircrew deploying the life raft, ultimately allowed the Coast Guard to bring all seven back to shore safely,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kathleen Sullivan, a Sector Mobile search and rescue mission coordinator. “This case was a seamless example of teamwork and coordination between multiple different Coast Guard and local assets.”
Everyone rescued was reported to be in stable condition.
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