USCG credits device to quick rescue of four after boat capsizes off Folly Beach

USCG credits EPIRB to quick rescue of four after boat capsizes
Good Samaritan boat waits near the overturned boat that four people cling to (Source: Coast Guard)
Good Samaritan boat waits near the overturned boat that four people cling to (Source: Coast Guard)

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Coast Guard officials are crediting a locator device on a boat that overturned to the quick rescue of four people off Folly Beach.

The rescue happened Tuesday afternoon nearly 10 miles off the coast.

Lt. Dan Sweeney with the U.S. Coast Guard said the boat had an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) that made the difference in saving the lives of the four people whose boat capsized.

"We had just enough time to grab life jackets and EPIRB, we also threw the cooler out too in case the boat sank right away but the current took it quickly," said the owner of the 27-foot twin motor boat, Richard "Chippy" Chipman II ."Thanks to a good crew and everyone on board knowing where everything was at."

The device sent an alert to authorities that something had gone wrong. At that same time, the Coast Guard got another tip from one of the spouses.

"Her husband had called and told her the boat had taken on water and was going down," Sweeney said.

The Coast Guard was able to get a helicopter crew out with a rescue swimmer. Lt. Sweeney said that swimmer helped move the four to a Good Samaritan boat that was in the area.

"The vessel stayed there until the Coast Guard could come and transport the four survivors back to land," Sweeney said.

"Thanks for all the help, prayers and concerns to all," Chipman said on Wednesday."God bless and be careful. Have your proper safety gear on board. You never know when when things could go wrong!"

The capsized boat is part of the ten percent of the recreational boating population in the United States that had an EPIRB attached and registered to it.

The same goes for personal locator beacons on life jackets.

"With them having that EPIRB on board it really took the search out of search and rescue," Sweeney said. "We were able to direct our Coast Guard aircraft directly to their location."

In addition to that locator device the boaters had life jackets on and stayed together clinging to the hull of the boat.

"If you do find yourself in an emergency situation where you're out of the vessel try to stay with the vessel or stay with your group and the other survivors in your party," Sweeney said. "When we're looking for you, you're a larger target and you make yourself easier to be found."

Sweeney and other law enforcement agencies are urging boaters to take extra precaution with the holiday weekend ahead.

While these devices are not a requirement, officials said they do make a difference in life or death situations.

All four people were taken to Remley's Point to be checked out. There were no reported medical concerns.

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