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3 from sunken boat fight off sharks before rescue by Coast Guard off Louisiana coast

The Coast Guard Cutter Kimball (WMSL 756) tranists past Dimond Head on Oahu, Hawaii, Aug. 16, 2019. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)

Three men stuck in the water for more than 24 hours after their boat sank in the Gulf of Mexico were forced to fend off sharks before they were rescued by the Coast Guard.

When a rescue boat arrived on scene Sunday about 25 miles off the coast of Empire, La., the boat’s crew saw two of the boaters trying to keep sharks away, with both suffering injuries to their hands, according to a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard. The two boaters were pulled from the water before additional injuries could occur, authorities say.

A rescue helicopter pulled a third boater from the water. All three boaters were wearing lifejackets and one was experiencing signs of hypothermia at the time of the rescue.

They were taken to a hospital and were reportedly in stable condition.

The victims’ 24-foot center console boat sank at about 10 a.m. Saturday, stranding them without communication devices, according to the Coast Guard. Family members called the Coast Guard when the boaters did not return from a fishing trip.

“If the family member had not notified the Coast Guard, and if these three boaters were not wearing life jackets, this could’ve been a completely different outcome,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Keefe, a Sector New Orleans search and rescue mission coordinator. “We appreciate the assistance of the boating public, who were instrumental in helping identify possible areas where these boaters could have been operating before the vessel became in distress.”

Several air and boat crews searched an area of about 1,250 square miles looking for the boaters, equivalent to the size of Rhode Island.


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