Man, son, dog rescued from Gulf of Alaska life raft

Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- A Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued a Ketchikan man, his son, and their dog from a life raft after their 32-foot fishing vessel sank Friday morning in the Gulf of Alaska.

Jim Bingman, 39, Justin Bingman, 13, and their dog Honey were rescued 90 miles southeast of Cordova.

The Coast Guard received an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon signal at 5:04 a.m.

The beacons, which signal potential distress, are registered to specific users. The agency was able to contact a relative to determine who was on board the vessel and their route.

The Bingmans were on their way from Kodiak to Ketchikan.

A Kodiak-based helicopter crew, staged in Cordova, launched at 6:30 a.m. to search for the three.

''Because they had current registration information, we were able to quickly determine the route they were taking, the number of people on board, and their vessel's description,'' said Petty Officer Doug Green of the 17th Coast Guard District Rescue Coordination Center.

The helicopter crew located the Bingmans in the life raft at 7:40 a.m.

The helicopter crew lowered rescue swimmer Petty Officer Chris Mann, 22, to conduct his first rescue.

Mann swam with the three to the rescue basket, one at a time, as Petty Officer Jeff Kaschalk hoisted them into the helicopter.

''The dog was the most difficult to rescue out of the three,'' said Mann. ''He didn't want to get in the water. I grabbed a hold of the dog, he put his paws on my arm, and I swam him to the rescue basket.''

Jim Bingman told the Coast Guard his vessel's aluminum hull was punctured when the vessel hit debris.

Coast Guard pilot Lt. Cmdr. Guy Pearce said the Bingmans were well prepared to be rescued. They had an up-to-date, registered beacon, they had survival suits and they had a life raft ready to be used.

''When you see that, it takes a lot of stress out of the rescue because it means these guys are well prepared,'' Pearce said.

Even the dog had a personal flotation device, said Petty Officer Christopher Grisafe.

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