A teenager whose appendix ruptured at sea, hundreds of miles from help, got safely to shore Tuesday after an unusual rescue in which the Navy airlifted her from a cruise ship for emergency surgery.
Laura Montero, 14, fell ill aboard the Dawn Princess cruise ship off the coast of Baja California. The Bahamian-registered ship sent out a distress call Friday that was answered by the USS Ronald Reagan, which was on training maneuvers about 500 miles away.
The Reagan, a nuclear carrier, was the closest ship with a hospital facility, according to a news release from the Navy.
A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises, which operates the Dawn Princess, said the ship's captain called the Coast Guard for help because he felt that would be faster than diverting to the nearest Mexican port.
The Dawn Princess returned to its home port of San Diego over the weekend from its regular weeklong run along the Baja California coast to the resorts of Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
The Reagan, which carries as many as 6,000 crew members and costs about $2.5 million a day to operate while under way, returned Tuesday morning, its scheduled return from the training tour.