Coast Guard Helicopter Nearly Crashes into Gulf of Mexico During Cruise Liner Evacuation
ALABAMA (KPEL News) - A Coast Guard helicopter nearly took the plunge on Saturday as it was attempting to medevac a cruiseliner passenger who was experiencing symptoms similar to a heart attack.
According to Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans, the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was dispatched about 40 miles off the coast of Fort Morgan, Alabama early Saturday morning after a report from the Carnival Dream. The report indicated a passenger was suffering heart attack-like symptoms. The helicopter was escorted by an HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane.
But rough weather in the Gulf made it difficult to evacuate the passenger, and video from the scene shows the aircraft nearly crashing into the sea.
The pilot was able to regain control of the aircraft, steadying it and keeping it out of the water. Such an act required "superb" piloting, as noted in several of the comments on the video.
The first attempt at a rescue was aborted due to the wind, with both aircraft returning home, leaving behind a member of the Coast Guard rescue personnel. According to AL.com, the passenger and the rescue personnel were both successfully evacuated, however.
“During the rescue, the aircrew experienced severe and rapidly deteriorating weather that forced them to abort the mission,” said Cmdr. Keith Blair, commanding officer, Air Station New Orleans.
“Through exceptional real-time risk management, crew resource management, and superb piloting, the aircrew was able to safely recover the aircraft and land at the air station without further incident.”