A family from Flour Bluff was shaken and scared, but okay after a terrifying ordeal just a few miles off the Packery Channel.
The family, including three children, were left hanging on to the side of a boat for more than an hour, after the boat had taken on water and capsized Thursday morning.
The children's mother was able to call 911 by using her cell phone. Dispatchers in turn called the US Coast Guard.
All of the action could be seen in the distance from the Packery Channel. A Falcon jet spotted the overturned boat about three miles from the shore. The family was in the water, but still clinging to the boat.
Lt. Keith Thomas and Lt. Dakata Brodie were heading out on a training flight on a Coast Guard helicopter when they were diverted to help in the search and rescue. They said the family did the right thing by staying with the vessel instead of trying to swim ashore.
"Being able to see land gives a false sense of hope," Brodie said. "Because even though you see land a long ways away, you can't make it because of the current."
They swooped in and used a basket to get two survivors at a time. However, they were only able to hoist up the mom and three children. The father and one of the crew members had to stay behind with the boat because of weight and fuel concerns for the helicopter.
Just a few moments later, the father was picked up by a Coast Guard vessel that also aided in the rescue. Officials said the family was reunited at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi and are all safe.
"It finally hit me when we finally got back on deck," Thomas said. "As I was getting out of my seat and saw four survivors, huddled together and crying, it hit me. We made a difference."
In the meantime, officials said not everyone in the family was wearing a life jacket. They encourage everyone who goes boating to wear one, and also not to rely on a cell phone if you get into trouble. If the family had been just a few more miles offshore, that cell phone would not have worked.
Instead, make sure you have marine radio, no matter how small your boat is.
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