Navy wraps up daring rescue of sick toddler – USA TODAY
A Navy warship completed the daring rescue Sunday of a sick 1-year-old girl from a San Diego family’s sailboat hundreds of miles off the coast of Mexico.
Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Barry Bena told USA TODAY the frigate USS Vandegrift had reached the 36-foot Rebel Heart on Sunday, and the entire family was taken aboard the Vandegrift bound for San Diego.
Charlotte and Eric Kaufman were attempting to sail across the Pacific Ocean with their daughters, Cora, 3, and Lyra, 1, according to their blog. The couple sent a distress ping to a satellite Thursday after Lyra became sick with a fever and rash.
That night, a four-person Air National Guard team from California’s 129th Rescue Wing parachuted into the ocean, inflated a boat and reached the Rebel Heart to provide immediate medical attention.
The Rescue Wing reported Saturday that Lyra’s condition had stabilized, but that she required medical treatment. Pararescuers remained with the family and were providing care to the infant. Pararescuers, sometimes called PJs or pararescue jumpers, combine parachuting and emergency medical skills.
Charlotte Kaufman’s sister, Sariah Kay English, posted Friday on Facebook: “Please keep my sister in your prayers. I have yet to get in contact with them. Will update more when I know.”
The Rescue Wing said in a statement Saturday that the sailboat was almost 1,000 miles from Cabo San Lucas and did not have steering or communication abilities.
The couple’s blog posts from early in the trip tell tales of family fun, but also of hardships virtually from the time they left San Diego. The posts mostly appear to be written by Charlotte Kaufman. The post for day 3 begins: “As of about noon today the only thing I planned on writing for this entry was: This blows.”
That day improved somewhat, the post goes on to say, but the next day’s post includes “It is so hard to keep a positive outlook at sea when you feel awful. I was hoping that by day four my nausea would have subsided…”
The day 8 post begins with this: “I think this may be the stupidest thing we have ever done. ‘Stupid’ is the number one word that resonates throughout my day as we tick the slow minutes away to the kids’ bed times each night.”
But it concludes a bit more upbeat: “Ultimately, how many people will ever experience the feeling of being surrounded by waves and wind, as close as an arm’s reach away from them, for weeks and weeks? It is a difficult, self-imposed isolation that is completely worth it. Okay, maybe still a tiny bit stupid, but worth it.”
The last entry was posted April 1, and it described some minor comfort enhancements. It includes: “We are in good spirits, as good as you can be, considering. We rearranged the sleeping arrangements yet again, and Eric and I both slept better than we have the entire trip. You know how you say you feel like a million bucks? We felt like twenty bucks before last night’s sleep schedule, and now we feel like forty, or maybe even fifty bucks.”
Two days later, the family sent out a distress ping.