A mother and her two sons were rescued by a British Navy helicopter on Thursday after their vessel capsized off the coast of Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria slammed into the country earlier this week, according to a Coast Guard press release.
According to the Sun Sentinel, a Dominican woman, a British man and their two sons were on the vessel when it capsized. The man was not rescued in time and was found dead underneath the capsized vessel.
The U.S. Coast Guard received a distress signal from the boat around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday. The boat was stuck in 115 mile-per-hour winds and 20-foot high seas near Viques, an island off the coast of Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard told the family to keep their radio beacon ready in case they were forced to abandon ship. Shortly afterwards, they lost contact with the boat.
The boat was roughly 50 miles away from where the family originally called in the distress signal.
A Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater HC-130 Hercules aircraft found the overturned vessel with the mother and her two sons on top. A British Royal Navy helicopter rescued the family early Thursday.
The family was stuck on the boat for more than 24 hours before being rescued. A rescue attempt could not be conducted until weather conditions improved.
“We initially got the call — a vessel in distress, a family of four, north of St. Croix, literally in the teeth of a hurricane,” Rear Adm. Peter Brown, commander of the United States Coast Guard Seventh District, told The New York Times. “We were obviously concerned. We didn’t ask their names and didn’t ask why they were out there.”
“They said they were disabled,” Brown added. “They lost their engine, or perhaps it was not strong enough to overcome the force of the winds and waves.”
The woman and her two children were then brought on the USS Kearsarge.
According to The New York Times, the vessel they were on was a former U.S. government oceanographic research vessel that was decommissioned in 2002 and sold to an oil exploration company near Houston.