Tour boat crew honored by Coast Guard for saving lives

By Michelle Paynter - bio | email

TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - Talk about being in the right place at the right time. A dolphin tour boat crew, taking tourists and a group of Girl Scouts off the shore of Tybee Island, rescued two people from a sinking boat.

It happened May 24. Capt. Josh Parker and first mate Vivian Austin were about the Dolphin III, part of the fleet for Capt. Mike's Dolphin Tours on Tybee Island.

"It was four o'clock in the afternoon, [a] cloudy day, high tide and just out looking for dolphins like we always do and I see a boat coming across from Hilton Head," Parker said. "I said, 'He's going a little far in to clear the channel.' Then I said, 'I think he's going to hit the rocks. A minute later, I see a splash out of the corner of my eye, the boat stopped and I hear the call on the radio."

Parker and Austin answered that call, pulling a man and woman to safety.

"As soon as we got there we picked them up, the boat sank. A second later, they'd be floating in the water."

On Wednesday, the U.S. Coast Guard honored Parker and Austin with a certificate a merit and credited them for saving lives.

"It's just instinct," said Parker. "You are out there you see somebody in distress, you want to help them."

Austin added, "We've been working on the water a long time and I've been working with that captain a long time and we pretty much know what we need to do. We just go and do it, no hesitation, it wasn't our first rescue."

This duo has rescued nine people in the past seven or eight years. But this is the first time they've been recognized publicly, which is something they had never expected.

"[If] I'm in trouble out there on the water one day, I hope somebody responds to my distress call," said Austin. "It's a nice bonus though."

The two people who were rescued are from Hilton Head Island, they were unable to attend the ceremony. They did send the Coast Guard an email, thanking Parker and Austin for saving them.

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