Coast Guard rescues 4 people after fishing boat sinks 70 miles off St. Petersburg

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(Tribune News Service) – The U.S. Coast Guard rescued four people who were on a life raft on Monday after their fishing boat sank about 70 miles west of St. Petersburg.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater hoisted the four onto the plane after the fishing vessel Right Stuff sank.

The Coast Guard identified the four as Matt Whites, 42, Heather Whites, 40, Nicole Mendez, 22, and Mickey Maguire, 26.

The Coast Guard was alerted to the sinking by an Emergency Locator Beacon — or EPIRB — distress signal from the sinking boat before the occupants jumped onto the life raft.

An alert was sent to other boats in the area and a Good Samaritan remained on scene during the rescue, the coast guard said.

Coast Guard officials said the occupants had the right equipment on board to survive such an ordeal.

“This event underscores the importance of having proper survival gear and careful preparation by the ship’s crew,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Maddux, Jayhawk helicopter pilot at Air Station Clearwater. “Having life jackets and a life raft was essential to the survival of these four people.”

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A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater. (Lisa Ferdinando/US Coast Guard)

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