Savannah-Based Coast Guard Crew Makes Florida Rescue - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/12/03

Savannah-Based Coast Guard Crew Makes Florida Rescue

The US Coast Guard is known for its daring rescues. But one crew based out of Savannah had to perform a rescue that was challenging even for them. It was a rescue these men will never forget. What started as a routine day turned out to be a lot more when they had to make a dramatic rescue without a rescue diver.

This four-man crew returned from their five-week deployment in Key West. In those five weeks, they stopped ten migrants from entering the US and conducted a medical evacuation.. But there's one mission that these men will never forget. It happened on December 9, when they got a call about a disabled vessel with a father and son on board.

Lt. Bill Strickland told us, "One of the individuals began to drown and slip under the water. We had to send a pilot
to put him in the basket and bring him back."

Flight mechanic PO Brian Jerri was the man that originally was hoisted down to rescue the 81-year-old man. "I had the basket right next to him and he wouldn't reach out and grab it," he recalled.

That's when Lt. Dale Taylor came in. Taylor was flying the rescue helicopter when he had to pass control to his copilot. He then jumped out of his helicopter and into the water, saving the man's life. "He was pretty much limp when I got to him," Taylor recalled. "He was totally exhausted."

Normally, there is a rescue diver on the helicopter, but because of the nature of this deployment, the men had to improvise, and in the process saved two lives. "The first pilot and flight mechanic are the heroes," Taylor said. "They held the helicopter close enough. I had the easy job. I got in the water and put him in the basket."

"It's not something we normally do, it's not something we train for, but in this case we had to save a life, it was necessary," said Lt. Strickland.

Reported by: Hena Daniels, hdaniels@wtoc.com

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