SLC Firefighters Battle Hurricane Force Winds to Rescue a Senior Couple
St. Lucie County - Thursday November 10, 2022: St. Lucie County Fire District firefighters rescued and elderly couple from their sailboat during the height of Hurricane Nicole Wednesday night.
The St. Lucie County Fire District responded to an emergency call from the couple at At 11:58 PM Wednesday night. Their sail boat was stuck at the west end of the North Hutchinson Island Bridge.
On arrival, SLC firefighters found the 30 foot vessel with its mast broken off and entangled on the deck. It was wedged beneath the bridge in rising water with two occupants aboard. They had been adrift for several hours when their vessel became pinned against and ultimately under the bridge.
Attempts were made to secure the vessel and bring the occupants onto the bridge; however, at the time hurricane force winds were battering the rescue operation.
Members of the St. Lucie County Fire District Special Operations team attempted to board the vessel to lift the occupants utilizing an aerial ladder truck and a hoist. In the midst of the rescue the unsecured vessel broke free and floated into the open water of the Indian River lagoon.
Therefore, as a secondary rescue measure, the Fire District deployed its marine rescue vehicle. Two firefighters deployed from a ramp near South Bridge and reacquired the floating vessel, which by now had run aground midway between the North Bridge and Harbor Point Park in the lagoon and was taking on water.
Indian County Fire Rescue also deployed a swift water rescue vessel to assist the Fire District and arrived just as rescuers were able to remove the occupants.
The two occupants were carried from their boat onto the rescue vessel and brought to dry ground. St. Lucie County Fire District transported the occupants to safety without incident.
The United States Coast Guard had no rescue vessels available and was unable to respond to the scene.