Coast Guard rescues 19 sick crew members, orders ship to remain anchored

Crews safely hoist sick crew members from boat


MIAMI – The U.S. Coast Guard said 19 sick crew members aboard the JS Comet were hoisted Tuesday evening 3 miles off Port Canaveral.

Two helicopter crews safely hoisted the crew members from the boat in winds associated with Tropical Storm Arthur.

Due to deteriorating weather conditions and the crew's symptoms worsening, the Coast Guard determined the safest course of action was to evacuate the patients with a helicopter rather than a Coast Guard small boat, authorities said.

The JS Comet crew became ill early Tuesday and were reportedly suffering food poisoning-like symptoms. The Coast Guard said a decision was made to take the 19 members to a hospital.

Two crew members from the JS Comet not experiencing the illness remained on board the boat, authorities said.

"The health and well-being of the ill crewmembers was our top priority," said Cpt. Tom Allan, commanding officer and captain of the port for Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. "Our responders performed extraordinarily in challenging conditions to get the sick crewmembers to the hospital. We are coordinating with the company to identify qualified personnel to operate the vessel, mitigate the maritime environmental risks and ensure the public's safety."