Coast Guard rescues 3 near Galveston, searching for 1

December 2, 2010 4:22:29 PM PST
The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for a fisherman missing in the Gulf of Mexico. Three people have been rescued but one man is still missing.

The shrimp boat they were in sank about 10 miles off the coast south of Galveston.

The three rescued men are doing surprisingly well because Thursday was a warm day and the water near the coast isn't all that cold yet. But none of the four shrimpers had a life jacket, and chances are dwindling that the fourth crewmember could still be alive.

For 15 hours, the Coast Guard's searched from the air and on the water looking for the crew of the shrimp boat that started taking on water about 3am Thursday.

"The search is actually ideal conditions. The weather's perfect. It's come in a little bit now, but when we were out there all day. It was clear skies. The sea stayed really low and good visibility" said Justin Leddon with the Coast Guard.

Leddon is part of the air crew working on that search. By the time he arrived, the boat had sunk and Coast Guard crews found three of the four shrimpers clinging to debris.

The three survivors were quickly flown to UTMB. Dr. Bill Mileski met them there, and his biggest concern was the fact that the men had been in the cold water for more than an hour.

"All three men were alert and knew what was happening, but they had mild hypothermia. Their body temperature was a few degrees colder than they should've been," Dr. Mileski said.

The survivors, all from Brownsville, were all set to be released late Thursday afternoon from the hospital. But they're still hoping the ongoing search would turn up some sign of their captain, who was last seen drifting away from the three survivors.

"The three were together. For the first 20 minutes they were in the water. They had visual on the captain," Leddon said. "And then after that, I believe they started drifting apart and they lost visual."

There was some initial confusion after the three rescues; it took a few minutes in the helicopter to realize there was a fourth shrimper still in the water. Neither the fishermen, nor the coast guard could see him.

The Coast Guard plans to continue its search all night.

No one knows why the shrimp boat started taking on water.


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