SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard rescue teams suspended the search for additional survivors Sunday afternoon, after an illegal voyage vessel ran aground against the coastal rocks of Punta Borinquen in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. .
The Coast Guard, Ramey Sector Border Patrol and Puerto Rico Police Joint Rapid Action Force Response Units rescued nine undocumented people in distress. The nine rescued survivors and seven others, who reached shore safely on their own, are in Border Patrol custody.
According to statements by survivors, the capsized ship was carrying 18 people on board.
Sector San Juan Coast Guard watchmen received a communication at 10:08 a.m. Sunday from a concerned citizen who reported the incident. Observers directed the launch of a Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter from Borinquen Air Station and hijacked Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos at the scene.
The Coast Guard helicopter crew hoisted two of the survivors out of the water and transferred them to Border Patrol units on scene.
“The people we saw were climbing the highest rocks they could safely cross and were wearing life jackets or bright fluorescent clothing, which made them easy to spot,” Lt. Vincent P said. Lewandowski, commander of the Coast Guard’s MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter. “I’m particularly proud of the crew, as crew communication and coordination was key to navigating multiple rocks in the middle of the rising tide. Luckily the survivors were able to hold on until we arrived, and we’re all glad they’re safe.
Among the survivors, there are said to be 12 Dominican men, two Haitian men, a Haitian woman and a Haitian minor.
After the capsizing, the response units continued the search for approximately five hours, under favorable search conditions, before suspending the search.
- MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter
- Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos
- Coast Guard cutter Joseph Tezanos cutter boat
- Puerto Rico Police Joint Rapid Action Force Marine Units
- Ramey Sector Border Patrol Units
Cutter Joseph Tezanos is a 154-foot fast-response cutter based in San Juan, Puerto Rico.