Scarier Than We Knew, The True Story of Coast Guard Vessel Rescue
Tonight, 7News has learned additional details of how two police officers, two coast guard officers, and one scenes of crime technician were rescued after their boat took on water. Yesterday, Coast Guard Commandant, Gregory Soberanis, told the media that the boat capsized, and that the men were found by fishermen in the area.
But, the truth is that the 25 foot skiff took on water and sank.
Reports reaching our newsroom say the vessell assigned for the mission may not have been the most sea worthy. Additionally, the Coast Guard loaded most of their equipment onto the back of the boat.
That's why, only 30 minutes into the journey, the boat began taking on water from the back. This happened around 10:45 - which is when the distress call was made - but the officers were not found until 2:15,
Additionally, reports to us say that only four life jackets were used, and the a coast guard officer onboard was not wearing any. Reports are that the two cops and the technician remained where they were while the coast guard officers swam away to find help.
And while there were air and sea assets trying to find them, eventually the rescue - which happened south of Stake Bank - was effected by six fishermen men who were coming back from diving.
According to one of the rescuers, Carl Meighan, they first thought the men were divers but soon learned that they were in danger. They first rescued the police officers, and then found the coast guard officers - and just in time, since the woman who was without a life jacket was cramping up and in immediate danger of drowning.
Voice of: Carl Meighan, rescuer
"When we were coming back we saw 3 persons drifting and so we went to check on them and then while we were picking them up they told us that 2 more persons are distance away. We heard them making noise. They were about 3 minutes away, so we had to help them and then went to pick up the others ones. The lady coast guard didn't have any life vest, so while we were trying to bring her up she almost drown and the police officer wasn't able to move, so we had to bring him into the boat. After that we started heading in. We tried to wave down the coast guard boat but they didn't pay us any mind. The Astrum helicopter had passed over us and then went so many miles out and then came back in. We escorted them all the way to the base and spend about 2 hours there. When we first saw them we thought they were in training and when we got closure and saw the situation with their boat under water we hurriedly help pull them out."
"What's that like knowing that you had to rescue police officers and coast guard?"
Voice of: Carl Meighan, rescuer
"We felt good that we were there to help them."
The divers who saved the men said that they were commended and given gas for their brave efforts. The names of the other divers are Norris Meighan, the captain, Mario Meighan, Dylan Belisle, Melvin Mckay and Keaton Westby.
Coast Guardsman Got Fuel Burns To 20% of His Body
Before we got that information, we had a chance to speak with the Acting Commandant of the Coast Guard about the status of the law enforcement personnel who were injured yesterday. Commander Greg Soberanis told us that the coast guardsman suffered fuel burns to 20% of his body when the vessel capsized:
Commander Gregory Soberanis - Acting Commandant, Belize Coast Guard
"I was informed that he's doing well and that he's going to recover. I was also informed that it was about 20% of his body that was affected by the fuel burn. So, we're thankful, as I mentioned yesterday. We are truly thankful that he survived the ordeal, and as the Coast Guard family, we pray for him, and we wish him a speedy recovery."
"Any update on the female cop who was in the hospital?"
Commander Gregory Soberanis
"She was taken to the hospital because of the conditions like I said, the water she was experiencing cramps. So, we just wanted her to go there for observation and to ensure that everything is okay. But, again, I'm told that she is going to be fine."
The Coast Guard intends to show thanks and appreciation to the civilian vessel that effected the rescue.