GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (July 5, 2014) – 15 people had to be pulled to safety by way of an inflatable Coast Guard raft normally reserved for ice rescues, that’s according to the U.S. Coast Guard Public Affairs.
A 13-year-old girl on the boat was able to get in contact with the Coast Guard around 1:15 Saturday morning. That girl told rescuers that 13 of the 15 people stranded were deaf and three of them had asthma and were without their medication.
The 16-foot pontoon had gone aground near Lloyd’s Bayou on the Grand River. According to the Coast Guard, the boat only had two life jackets and had been away from land since 5 p.m. on Friday night.
Rescuers from Grand Haven had to use an inflatable ice rescue skiff and could only transport three people at a time. The boat crew transferred all 15 passengers over the course of an hour.
“Coast Guard rescuers combine communication skills, training and rescue techniques that are uncommon to summer operations to successfully bring everyone aboard the pontoon boat to safety,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Greg Mattson, a coxswain and officer of the day at Station Grand Haven. “The assistance from the girl and from Tow Boat US were vital to the success of the rescue operation.”
All 15 were taken to the Holiday Inn in Grand Haven for treatment. The extent of their injuries are not known.