Editorial Salute - 8/30/12 - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Editorial Salute - 8/30/12

Along the beach at Hilton Head Island, it was a moderately windy morning, and with it, choppy ocean waters, making distant visibility between the waves, intermittent, at best.  Near 10 AM, a beach-goer reported seeing something far out in the water. Perhaps just a pelican flapping its wings, as a number of them had been seen flying around.  To be certain, the beach patrol began to search, and Coast Guard Station Tybee launched a rescue boat.  After responders spoke further with the observing party, finding no one, apparently, missing from shore, and with those out looking coming-up empty, the decision was made to begin a stand-down. 

Meanwhile, Coast Guard Air Station Savannah had already launched a rescue helicopter and four-man crew to join in the search, learning, while underway, that ground responders had concluded, no evidence to the contrary, that what had been observed, was most likely, just a pelican taking flight, and with it, the case was declared closed.    

Regardless, the Savannah-based flight crew continued its search for whatever might still be out there.  Then, in a classic case of training, skill and seasoned-instinct, crew members spotted, not a pelican, but a person, down there in the water, over a mile out from shore!  While hovered over-head, the team's rescue swimmer went into the water, secured the individual, then both were hoisted up and on-board.  Understandably frightened and exhausted, but otherwise OK, this 51-year-old female-resident of Hilton Head had been out for a morning run, then went for a quick swim to cool off, when rip-currents caught her, and pulled her well out to sea. Without the persistence of the Savannah Coast Guard team, continuing to search even after declaration of a false alarm, there's no question, this woman would've perished.  Perhaps a typical day for our quiet Coast Guard heroes.  Far from it for a dear lady, blessed with a life-renewed.        

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