NEW ORLEANS — The Coast Guard located and assisted four people aboard a workboat that grounded on the lower Mississippi River near Pilottown Tuesday.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received a report from an employee of Entergy that a 24′ workboat with four Entergy employees aboard was aground on the left descending bank of the lower Mississippi River. The four reportedly departed from Venice, La., between noon and 1 p.m. Monday en route to Port Eads and became lost. They were overdue for 19 hours. The four decided to stay in their current position until first responders arrived.
Following cell phone forensics analysis by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, the search area was narrowed down to approximately two miles on the lower Mississippi River north of Pilottown. Sector New New Orleans directed the launch of a Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew to the scene at approximately 8 a.m. The aircrew located the workboat and the four people aboard during the first search leg and vectored the location to a Coast Guard Station Venice 33′ Special Purpose Craft — Law Enforcement boat crew. Station Venice located the four approximately three-and-a-half miles southeaat of Venice.
“This was a successful case of boaters using a signaling device, especially a large searchlight,” said Lt. Caitlin MitchellWurster. “We had just started our shoreline search, and we were still about five miles away from where we thought they were, when our aviation electronics technician saw a flashing light about two miles away – it was them,” said Lt. Caitlin MitchellWurster, Air Station New Orleans MH-65 pilot.
Station Venice transported the four to the Venice Marina, where the reporting source was awaiting.
All four reported no injuries or medical concerns.
The Coast Guard recommends all boaters carry signaling devices such as flares, lights and emergency position indicating radio beacons, to name a few. The Coast Guard also reminds boaters to always wear their life jackets, since they enhance a boater’s visibility to first responders and increase the chances of survival.