4 rescued from sinking ship at popular Charleston fishing spot

A Charleston pilot boat. (Source: charlestonpilots.com)
A Charleston pilot boat. (Source: charlestonpilots.com)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston pilots and Coast Guard crews rescued four people from a boat which sunk at a popular fishing hole 12 miles off Charleston Harbor last Saturday.

According to John Cameron, spokesman for the Charleston Branch Pilots' Association, Captain Frank Witunsky and Fleet Captain John Miles were getting ready to pick up a pilot from a container ship leaving the port around 6 p.m. when they heard a distress call.

The call said the boat was taking on water and four people needed to be rescued from the popular fishing spot known as the "Charleston 60."  Witunsky and Miles raced to the 60 within a half hour to find a Coast Guard helicopter hovering over the target, showing the way for the pilot boat.

Cameron said the 28-foot boat had capsized by then, and four people were clinging to it, with debris from the boat floating all around them.  The water temperature was just 55 degrees.

The victims were brought aboard the Pilot boat and taken inside.  By the time crews were preparing to leave, just a third of the hull of the sunken boat was visible.  It had turned upside down.

The victims, who did not know what caused the boat to sink, were turned over to the Coast Guard and returned to shore.

Cameron said Charleston pilots maneuver container, cargo, cruise, and military ship entering and leaving the Port of Charleston to protect, people, the environment, and the flow of commerce from shipping accidents.

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