Sick Infant, Family Safely Aboard Navy Ship Following Pacific Ocean Rescue

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. (U.S. Navy Photo/Released)
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. (U.S. Navy Photo/Released)

A family with a sick infant safely boarded a Navy ship Sunday morning several hundred miles off the coast of Mexico following a coordinated rescue by Coast Guard, Air National Guard and Navy personnel that gained national attention over the weekend.

The USS Vandgrift (FFG 48) arrived on scene at the family’s sailboat approximately 900 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico at 1 a.m. Sunday, but out of caution waited until first light to commence the rescue.

At approximately 8 a.m., Sailors aboard Vandegrift brought aboard the infant, three family members and four Air National Guard pararescuemen who parachuted in Thursday night to provide the child with medical aid.

The family and the infant are reported to be in stable condition.

The rescue follows a call to the coast guard Thursday morning from the sailing vessel Rebel Heart requesting assistance for a one-year-old child that was seriously ill and not responding to medication. A Coast Guard flight surgeon recommended the child be seen by medical personnel within 2 days.

The Coast Guard requested assistance from the Navy and the California Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing, which launched an Air Force MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft and four pararescuemen. At approximately 8 p.m. Thursday, the team arrived onboard to the Rebel Heart and provided medical aid to the sick child while they awaited Vandegrift to arrive.

Sailors aboard Vandegrift will provide a medical evaluation of the family and the ship will begin transiting to San Diego.

Update – the family has issued the following statement, via the U.S. Navy:

“First, we would like to express how grateful we are to the men and women of the Coast Guard, California Air National Guard and Navy who rescued our family, especially the pararescuemen and crew of USS Vandegrift. We are very thankful to be safe and well. We also appreciate all the concern, thoughts and prayers of everyone back home for the health of our daughter Lyra. She is doing well now, and her medical condition continues to improve.

“We understand there are those who question our decision to sail with our family, but please know that this is how our family has lived for seven years, and when we departed on this journey more than a year ago, we were then and remain today confident that we prepared as well as any sailing crew could. 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. 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 and support us.

“Thank you.”

The family has been documenting their trans-pacific trip at www.therebelheart.com.