Re: new wreck at Chruch Rock, Catalina

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Posted by . on January 24, 2004 at 12:32:15:

In Reply to: new wreck at Chruch Rock, Catalina posted by Chris on January 18, 2004 at 22:44:02:

Power Boat Lost On Rocks Near Catalina

Thursday, January 22, 2004

By Sherri Walker

A fishing trip to Santa Catalina Island ended on the rocks of the East End for four friends early Jan. 18.

Although the vessel was a complete loss, the four men escaped with only minor injuries.

The group was near Church Rock in their new 22-foot aluminum power boat when they hit a submerged rock at about 2:30 a.m.

The boat was quickly caught in the surf zone and flipped over, according to Baywatch Captain John McKay. “They immediately bailed out,” McKay said. “Luckily, they weren’t pinned or trapped in the boat.”

Although the East End light was burned out at the time, McKay did not know if that had contributed to the incident.

“They did have radar on board, but sometimes when you’re that close to shore, the echoes from the cliffs can interfere,” he said.

After making their way ashore, the four men used a light to attempt to signal passing boaters. Just before 5 a.m. they were successful, and the Chill Thrill radioed the Coast Guard that it had observed a distress signal from the beach.

Coast Guard Group San Diego dispatched Baywatch Avalon to begin the search for the boaters. “We observed lights close to shore,” McKay said.

High surge and the large rocks of the East End prevented McKay from getting in too close, so his rescue swimmer J.T. Mehuron was prepared to make the long swim to shore.

At that time, an Avalon fisherman Scotty Costa arrived in his small vessel and offered to help. Costa was able to get his boat close to shore and dropped Mehuron off nearly in the surf line. “He did a great job,” McKay said of Costa. “He really helped out a lot.”

Once Mehuron reached the beach, he assessed the four fishermen; one had chest pains caused by trauma.

Mehuron offered to swim the four out to Costa’s boat, but they were leery of re-entering the churning surf. McKay radioed the Coast Guard, which sent a rescue chopper to the scene.

First up in the helicopter’s rescue basket was the injured angler, a 63-year-old from Inglewood.

He was flown directly to the Pebbly Beach heliport, where an Avalon Fire Department ambulance was waiting to take him to Avalon Municipal Hospital. “He had a fractured rib and a laceration to his tongue,” McKay said.

After that, the Coast Guard helicopter returned to airlift the rest of the anglers off the beach and onto the Baywatch rescue boat.

“The Coast Guard crew did a really great job,” McKay said. He was assisted once again by Costa, who had anchored his vessel to help McKay by guiding the helicopter’s basket onto Baywatch’s rear deck.

Once the anglers and rescue swimmer Mehuron were on board, Baywatch took the men to Avalon.

The vessel remained on the beach, pummeled by high surf and large boulders.

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