Father and Son Rescued by Coast Guard in Bellingham, WA

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SEATTLE — A Coast Guard aircrew rescued two mariners who went missing in separate small craft in the water off Fairhaven, Thursday night.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles located the missing father and son in shallow-water mud flats and transported them to emergency medical service personnel waiting at the Bellingham International Airport.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound received a report at 8:15 p.m. that two individuals, a 15-year-old male in a 12-foot grey dinghy and his 50-year-old father in an 10-foot orange kayak, had been missing for almost an hour.

The reporting source stated that while he was aboard the father’s 52-foot pleasure craft anchored 100 yards west of Boulevard Park, the son departed the anchored vessel in the dinghy with the intention of going east to Boulevard Park.

The father saw the dinghy being pushed west into the Bay, that his son could not make it to shore after he lost an oar, and departed in the kayak to get him.

In response to the report, sector watchstanders issues an urgent marine information broadcast while a 45-Foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Bellingham and the helicopter crew launched, and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Blue Shark was diverted to assist in the search efforts.

Local agency partners assisted in the search as well. Law enforcement personnel conducted a shoreline search and a Bellingham Fire Department marine unit had a boat crew on the water.

The aircrew located the father and son in the grey dinghy about 3.5 miles north of their anchored vessel in the north end of Bellingham Bay, lowered their rescue swimmer and hoisted them aboard. They had been missing for over two an a half hours and were cold and wet, but otherwise responsive and alert.

The swimmer stayed behind due to weight restrictions and was picked up by the aircrew after the father and son were transferred to EMS.

Weather was 2 to 3 foot seas, winds upward of 23-MPH, and both a gale warning and small craft advisory were in effect.

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