Fisherman Rescued at Sea in Dramatic Operation Involving Community and Coast Guard
A fisherman from La Isla Bonita is lucky to be alive after he was rescued at sea last night by a group of civilians. The daring rescue, caught on camera, captured Justin “Bobo” Daniels being saved as he struggled to stay afloat. Sometime before 7 o’clock, Daniels was on his way to San Pedro Town when his boat experienced mechanical failure. The fisherman hopped out of the boat to check its propeller, but, while in the water, Daniels drifted, and he was left stranded at sea. His friends and family immediately contacted the Belize Coast Guard and formed a search party. BCG Commandant Rear Admiral Elton Bennett explained how the BCG and the community were able to band together to rescue Daniels.
Rear Admiral Elton Bennett, Belize Coast Guard Commandant: “It’s really good to see the support that was marshaled together from the local community out in Caye Caulker and in San Pedro. We have high respect and high regards for any mariner who would take it upon themselves and get out and assist with any rescue operation. We did receive the information last night sometime around 7:30. We responded from our forward operating base at Station San Pedro. We received information that there were four persons on board a vessel just north of Caye Caulker and that there was one person overboard. Our patrol went into the area, they did find that vessel with those persons on board and indeed they reported that one person was overboard and immediately our patrol had a discussion with the individuals on board and then commenced search, surface search for that one individual. Mr. Justin Daniels who went overboard. The information that we received was that they had engine problems and that Mr. Justin Daniels went overboard to fix that mechanical snag and whilst he was working on the lower unit of the old board engine he did not surface. And so our search effort at that time was immediately around the vessel. We conducted an expanding square search moving in an increased search. Our immediate action was to conduct search in the immediate area of the vessel. We were looking for one person on board. It was a very difficult operation, very challenging to find someone at night who is over board. So we conducted immediate search for about three hours in that area and we were convinced that he was not anywhere within the immediate vicinity of the vessel. From what we understand Mr.Daniels was able to swim to a nearby Shoal area where he held on to the Shoal and later on was rescued by a team of fishermen that were in the area.”
Rear Admiral Bennett further explained that in a scenario where a vessel experiences mechanical failure, it is often difficult to decide whether to immediately call for help or to attempt to fix the issue.
Rear Admiral Elton Bennett, Belize Coast Guard Commandant: “It’s hard to determine the level of risk in remedying your vessel. If you do nothing it could become worse. If you do nothing you could lose complete control of your vessel and I believe that’s what Mr.Daniels did. He figured it was something minor in the propeller or perhaps in the lower unit that he could have remedied therefore he made that decision to go overboard and fix it. There are times when you will be able to be successful in fixing your engine, there are times where you will not be so it’s really down to the crew members, it’s down to the captain to determine the extent of assistance that they would call for and the extent of remedy that they can do to their vessel themselves. In this case it could have turned out bad. Fortunately Mr.Daniels was safe and secure and due to the rescue efforts that the community put together in that area. One of the most important thing that we try to encourage mariners in doing is to ensure that you have a life jacket. Your life jacket will save your life. If you need to go overboard whether for working on your vessel or for any other reason other than just recreation in a shallow area ensure that you wear your life jacket. That will save your life, it will help us as a rescue unit to be able to identify you from a distance but it will also keep you afloat. You may be a strong swimmer but the conditions out there in the ocean could change and that could make things go really bad very quickly. So a life jacket will save your life so one of the things that we try to emphasize on is whether you’re in the vessel you’re a weak swimmer or the conditions of the sea could rapidly change our best advice is to keep your life jacket close and wear it.”