Watchstanders at US Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a distress call via VHF-FM marine band radio channel 16 from one of the boaters stating, “We’re going down”, and watchstanders at the US Coast Guard District 7 command center received a personal locator beacon alert.


An aircrew aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from US Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater went on the scene to help. The aircrew hoisted the five boaters who were clinging to the hull of their 24-foot boat. All five were wearing their life jackets.

They were transported to George T. Lewis Airport and no injuries were reported.

Lt. Andrew Schwalbenberg, pilot and public affairs officer at Air Station Clearwater, noted:

These boaters are an excellent example of the importance of having emergency safety gear; by activating their personal position-indicating radio beacon, that alert gave rescuers a pin-point location of their distress.

A Hazard to Navigation was issued, alerting mariners in the area about the capsized boat.