CORPUS CHRISTI (KYTX) — A Coast Guard rescue helicopter crew saved two fisherman that were aground near South Padre Island just north of Port Isabel, Sunday.
The two fisherman contacted watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi after their 17-foot fishing boat ran aground north of Port Isabel at 9:15 p.m., Saturday. Watchstanders launched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and rescue crew from Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi at 3:10 a.m., after losing communications with the two fishermen.
"We knew that a cold front was coming, so the weather was only going to get worse," said Cmdr. Edward Gaynor, air operations officer at Sector Corpus Christi. "There was no way to determine how the fishermen were fairing because their cell phone had died, so we wanted to be conservative to ensure their safety and get them off the water before the storm came through."
The rescue crew arrived on scene at 4:45 a.m., after working through cloud layers as low as 150 feet and quarter-mile visibility. Both fishermen were hoisted using a rescue basket. The helicopter crew had to fly an instrument approach into Harlingen Regional airport, due to the worsening weather, where the two men were released to their awaiting family.
"Our pilots and crews train for these types of scenarios regularly, so our crew just did what we stand ready to do every day," said Lt. Cmdr. Brendan Evans, the aircraft commander. "The weather we encountered was worse than expected, but we have excellent tools in the aircraft like night vision goggles, onboard radar, and a forward looking infrared sensor that make navigation and searching possible on nights like this."