A close call as four fisherman are rescued from sinking boat

Toby Kim
Toby Kim
Garth Garcia
Garth Garcia
Kurt Lopez
Kurt Lopez

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

MAILI KHNL) - Four people are rescued after spending more than 2 hours at sea clinging to a cooler.

A police helicopter, which just happened to be in the area saw them and called for help.

It turned into a dramatic rescue that saw four men struggling for survival, after their boat sank.

Coast Guard and Honolulu Fire Department crews responded to the call for help.

It happened about two miles off Maili point this morning.

Just after 10am when the distress call came in, the calm of a morning fishing adventure for aku turned to chaos.

The four men on board say this is one fishing trip they'll never forget.

"It was a close call, a close call," said Garth Garcia.

Pleasure turned panic, four friends were floating like specs in the sea after their 19-foot fishing boat started sinking.

"The Bilge pump short out so 3, 4 swells would hit back to back," Garth Garcia said.

"The boat started filling up with water. The bilge pump never did work so we tried to stop the motor. It kept filling up with water and it sunk," Kurt Lopez said.

Using a cell phone, the men called family who alerted authorities of the boat's distress before going overboard into the ocean.

"We were swimming for two hours and we thought no one was coming and somebody came a police chopper found us," Kurt Lopez said.

" We didn't see a helicopter or nothing. That's when we were kind of worried but after we saw the helicopters we were alright," said one of the survivors.

Chopper 8 was one of the helicopters responding, capturing an exclusive look at the men clinging to a cooler before Coast Guard and fire department rescuers scoop them out of the sea and lift them to safety.

"I've been fishing for 20 years now and it's the first time it's happened to me," said Garcia.

Experienced but not prepared. Their boat didn't have enough life jackets, signal devices or a special VHF-radio that allows boats to communicate with each other when out to sea. It's equipment, the Coast Guard says would have helped in the rescue.

Luckily, they were able to make a call for help from their cell phone and help arrived. Landing on shore back on dry land the men are relieved the ordeal at sea is over and thankful to be with family, thankful for the efforts of rescuers and lucky to be alive.

"It's unbelievable but we're alright thank god," added one of the survivors.

All four of the men were checked out for injuries and as much as they all went through, they say they're thankful they were able to walk away without a scratch.