Ellabel Family Rescued After Abandoning Ship - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Ellabel Family Rescued After Abandoning Ship

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CHATHAM COUNTY, GA -

An Ellabell family is safe following a boat rescue. The U.S. Coast Guard said life jackets may have saved the lives of two adults and a child, who were hoisted from Ossabaw Island, GA, by a Coast Guard helicopter crew.

The Coast Guard said the family's vessel began taking on water, causing them to abandon ship into Ossabaw Sound, where they drifted for more than two hours before sunrise Sunday morning.

A concerned neighbor of the family contact officials after noticing the man, woman, and their son had not returned from their boating trip.

A Savannah Metro Police Department helicopter crew spotted the boat anchored and partially submerged at the northern tip of Ossabaw Island at 1:15 a.m. Sunday. Forty minutes later, the Coast Guard aircrew located the family of three on the beach on Ossabaw Island about two and a half miles away from the boat.

The Coast Guardsmen airlifted the trio and took them to Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, GA, where they were reunited with other family members. There were no injuries reported.

"This rescue is a perfect example of why life jackets and float plans are vitally important tools for mariners to use, and could be the determining factor in survival following an accident," said Lt. Cmdr. Derek Beatty of the Sector Charleston command center. "Had the neighbor not known the family's estimated return time or whereabouts, there's no telling how long they would have been stranded. It's also unlikely all three would have survived in the open water for two hours without life jackets. They were well prepared and it paid off ten-fold."

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Coffee Bluff Marine Rescue Squadron also assisted with the search.

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