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Coast Guard ends search for survivors in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

Coast Guard ends search for survivors in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
Archive image: An MH-60 Jayhawk Helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen, Puerto Rico, and a Customs and Border Patrol helicopter aircrew from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, conduct post search and rescue maintenance checks after flights over Haiti in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Aug. 23, 2021.
Coast Guard helicopters and aircrews are transporting medical personnel and evacuating those requiring higher levels of care.
U.S. Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kimberly Reaves.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Sunday afternoon, the Coast Guard rescue crews suspended the search for additional survivors from capsized vessel in Punta Borinquen in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard, Ramey Sector Border Patrol and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action responding units rescued nine undocumented persons in distress.​ The nine survivors rescued and seven others, who safely reached shore on their own, are in Border Patrol custody.​

According to statements from survivors, the capsized vessel was carrying 18 people onboard.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a communication at 10:08 a.m. Sunday from a concerned citizen who reported that a vessel washed up against the coastal rocks of Punta Borinquen in Aguadilla.​ Watchstanders directed the launch of a Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk Medium-Range Recovery Helicopter from Air Station Borinquen and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos to the scene.

The Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter aircrew hoisted two of the survivors from the water and transferred them to Border Patrol units on scene.

“The people we saw climbed onto the tallest rocks they could safely traverse and wore bright fluorescent life jackets or clothes making it easy to spot them,» said Lt. Vincent P. Lewandowski, Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter aircraft commander. «I’m especially proud of the crew as crew communication and coordination was critical to the navigation of multiple boulders amidst the rising tide. Fortunately, the survivors were able to hang on until we arrived, and we are all glad they are safe.»

Among the survivors, there are reportedly 12 Dominican Republic men, two Haitian men, a Haitian woman, and a Haitian female minor.

Following the capsizing, responding units continued searching for approximately five hours, in favorable SAR conditions, before suspending the search.

The Coast Guard units deployed in Aguadilla for the search was:

  • MH-60T Jayhawk Medium-Range Recovery Helicopter
  • Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos cutter boat
  • Puerto Rico Police Joint Force of Rapid Action marine units
  • Ramey Sector Border Patrol units

USCGC Joseph Tezanos is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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