Local News

Navy rescues family stranded at sea

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego baby who became ill aboard her family’s sailboat about 925 miles from Cabo San Lucas boarded a Navy frigate early Sunday was doing well and her condition was improving, family members said.


Sailors from Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Vandegrift (FFG 49) assist in the rescue of a family with a sick infant via the ship’s small boat as part of a joint U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and California Air National Guard rescue effort. (Credit: U.S. Coast Guard)

Eric and Charlotte Kaufman issued a statement from the USS Vandegrift Sunday evening thanking the Air National Guardsmen rescue team, the ship’s crew, the Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard personnel who rescued 1-year-old Lyra and the family from their 36-foot sailboat, called Rebel Heart, which authorities said had lost its steering and some of its radios.

“We are thankful to be safe and well,” Eric and Charlotte Kaufman said. “We are heading back home for the health of our daughter Lyra. She is doing well now and her medical condition continues to improve.”

The rescue mission was initiated on Thursday, after the family had spent about two weeks at sea on this leg of their trip around the world, because the stricken girl required treatment beyond the capabilities of the others on board, which included her parents and 3-year-old sister, Cora, according to 2nd Lt. Roderick B. Bersamina, spokesman for Air National Guard 129th Rescue Wing, and broadcast reports.

A Coast Guard flight surgeon recommended she be seen by medical personnel within two days, and an Air National Guardsmen rescue team parachuted into the ocean to board the Rebel Heart Thursday evening, according to Bersamina and the Coast Guard.

They remained with the family until the San Diego-based USS Vandegrift arrived about 1 a.m. and brought the girl, her family and the rescue team aboard the warship about 8 a.m.

The Kaufmans in their statement also addressed those who questioned their decision to sail with their young children, saying they were confident they had prepared as well as any crew could when they had departed more than a year ago and remained so today.baby rescue

“The ocean is one of the greatest forces of nature, and it always has the potential to overcome those who live on or near it,” the Kaufmans said. “We are proud of our choices and our preparation, and while we are disappointed that we lost our sailboat and our home, we remain grateful for those who came to our aid and those family and friends who continue to encourage us and support us.”

Sarah English, Charlotte’s sister, flew into San Diego from New Mexico on Sunday and said she has no interest in questioning her loved ones’ decisions.

“I’m just going to hug them and love them and welcome them with open arms because that’s what they need right now,” said English.

Coast Guard officials said the girl and her family were in stable condition.

Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer 2nd Class Barry Bena said the family tentatively expected to arrive sometime Wednesday, but it was unclear where the ship would pull in or whether the family would be airlifted to shore.

English told Fox 5 the Navy sunk the family’s boat after  the parents salvaged as many of their belongings as they could.

According to English, the family plans to rest a day or two before speaking to the media and then fly to New Mexico to stay with English for a time.



9 Comments to “Navy rescues family stranded at sea”

    jude m said:
    April 6, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    Why oh why would a responsible parent take a baby on an open ocean journey? Good grief.

    GBJ said:
    April 7, 2014 at 12:45 AM

    Eric and Michelle Kaufman should be charged with child endangerment.

      Melody said:
      April 7, 2014 at 3:24 PM

      I agree!!! They should be charged for child endangerment!! They are complete idiots!!!

    Chris said:
    April 7, 2014 at 4:30 AM

    What were these parents thinking?? Good grief. What a bunch of irresponsible and selfish idiots!

    Brett said:
    April 7, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    Anybody bad mouthing these parents should just suck it. They were doing an awesome thing and I applaud them for creating such amazing family memories. They've been doing this type of sailing for many years. Things happen and people get sick, I applaud them for calling for help rather than waiting until the next port.

      Fred said:
      April 7, 2014 at 2:05 PM

      Yeah sure Brett………

      i have heard the story change from heart ailment to upset stomach and diarrhea!

      Now I hope they get charged the cost of the rescue!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      JohnChimpo said:
      April 7, 2014 at 2:52 PM

      shut your quivering pie-hole, Brett. these parents were idiots, plain and simple. ill-equipped, unskilled, and extremely negligent to name a few problems.

    Daniel said:
    April 7, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    Oh my! I hope they get sterlized before having another kid.

    denise said:
    April 7, 2014 at 6:43 PM

    Obviously it wasn’t a good idea, obviously they didn’t make happy memories…so even though they might have meant well…fact is it was a stupid, irresponsible thing to do.
    And by the way anyone know why the navy sunk their boat/home?

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