A Coast Guard helicopter crew from Air Station Savannah rescued two boaters at 1:45 p.m. after they were forced to jump into the water when their vessel caught fire
seven miles southeast of Tybee Island, Ga., today. Rescue coordinators from Coast Guard Group Charleston, S.C., diverted the helicopter crew, which was returning from a previous missions in Charleston and also launched a small boat from Station Tybee, Ga., to respond to the vessel fire. Wallace Thomas Jr, and Thomas Wright were located immediately by the Savannah helicopter crew. Both boaters were forced to abandon ship to avoid flames which had completely engulfed their 30 foot recreationaal boat. Each of the survivors were hoisted by the Coast Guard air crew and taken to Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah. Thomas and Wright were reported in good condition. Both men had all of the Coast Guard required and approved safety gear, which greatly aided in the rescue. They had donned their personal floatation devices prior to abandoning ship and were ready to launch signal flares. "Locating the men was very easy because they were holding on to a bright yellow floatation device that was anchored to the sea bed," stated Petty Officer Thomas Thrasher, who was the flight mechanic and hoist operator on the case. "They were very lucky that they had their floatation devices on because the boat caught fire so quickly that they couldn’t launch their liferaft." The Coast Guard urges boaters to carry all required safety devices and to file a float plan with a family member or friend prior to taking to the waterways.