Coast Guard helicopter crew rescues girl from sailboat off St. Thomas

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ST. THOMAS - A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued a 16-year-old Dutch girl who was having a medical emergency aboard a sailing vessel off the coast of St. Thomas early Monday morning.

An Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew flew 85 nautical miles east of St. Thomas to retrieve the girl, who was suffering unspecified medical complications while on board the 170-foot trainee sailing vessel Wylde Swan.

The girl, who is a Dutch citizen, needed immediate medical attention ashore, according to U.S. Coast Guard officials.

The Coast Guard's command center in San Juan, Puerto Rico, received a request for assistance from the crew of the Wylde Swan at about 10:30 p.m. Sunday and dispatched a helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen, which was patrolling in the vicinity of the U.S. Virgin Islands, to perform the medevac.

The helicopter and aircrew arrived on the scene and deployed their rescue swimmer to the sailing vessel to assess the patient's condition, Ricardo Castrodad, regional spokesman for the Coast Guard, said in a prepared statement.

The patient was placed in the helicopter's rescue basket and hoisted aboard the aircraft, as was the Wylde Swan's nurse, about 1 a.m. Monday, Castrodad said.

"This was a very demanding medevac and our flight mechanic, AMT2 Marimercy Delong's, first live rescue hoist. She and the entire crew performed superbly amidst 6-foot swells and the swaying 90-foot mast," said Lt. Zach Geyer, the aircraft commander.

The Coast Guard helicopter crew transferred the girl to emergency medical services personnel at Schneider Hospital to receive further medical care, Castrodad said.

Castrodad was unable to provide any further information about the girl's condition as of Monday evening.

The Coast Guard performs between 400 and 500 rescues annually, Castrodad said, and they vary in how much they cost the agency.

"No case is exactly alike," he said.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email

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