The Coast Guard said two men from a sunken fishing boat were driving sharks away in the Gulf of Mexico when a crew rescued them and another person from the waters off the Louisiana coast.
“Rescued just in time,” US Coast Guard 8th District Heartland said in a news release, while also posting a dramatic video of the rescue.
The Coast Guard launched a search after a relative reported that three people had failed to return from a fishing trip on Saturday evening.
The 24-foot, center-console fishing boat sank at around 10 a.m. Saturday and trapped three people without communication equipment, the Coast Guard said in a news release.
All three were wearing lifejackets and one showing signs of hypothermia when they were rescued on Sunday in Empire, a small community southeast of New Orleans, about 25 miles from Louisiana. They had been in the water for more than 24 hours.
A Coast Guard boat crew saw two men running away from the shark, and both had injured hands, the news release said. The crew pulled them out of the water, and both were picked up on a helicopter. The helicopter crew lifted the third sailor out of the water.
Two injured people were taken to the University Medical Center in New Orleans, where they were listed as stable. The Coast Guard did not release their names and did not specify whether the injuries were from bites, from being scraped against the shark’s sandpaper-like skin, or for any other reason.
“If the family member had not informed the Coast Guard, and if these three sailors had not been wearing life jackets, it could have been a completely different outcome,” the lieutenant commander said. Kevin Keefe, a Coast Guard search and rescue mission coordinator in New Orleans.
Coast Guard teams in two boats, two planes and a helicopter searched about 1,250 square miles of water, slightly larger than the size of Rhode Island, the news release said.
Earlier this year a fisherman was bitten by a shark off the Bahamasby a US Coast Guard helicopter crew.