PORT ARANSAS, Texas (FOX 26) - When a 77-year-old man began suffering from chest pains with onset of a heart attack on his sailboat off the coast of Port Aransas, a Corpus Christi Coast Guard team stepped in to rescue the man and his dog.
Walter Smith was sailing alone with his dog about 40 miles off Port Aransas Tuesday. He contacted the Corpus Christi Coast Guard sector around 6 p.m. reporting that a wave had washed his medicine overboard and he needed assistance.
A crew immediately flew out by helicopter and determined the man was suffering from chest pains, didn’t have his medication, and was far from shore. The crew decided to hoist the man and his dog from the boat into the helicopter.
The crew lowered Petty Officer 3rd Class Graham Smith down to the boat to assess the situation and he helped lift the man and his dog into the helicopter. Petty Officer Smith recently graduated rescue swimmer school and this was his first Cost Guard rescue.
“"My adrenaline was going strong, but I fell back on my training to assess the situation and recover an elderly man from the onset of a heart attack and retrieve his dog from their sailboat," said Petty Officer Smith.
After the man was safely in the helicopter, Petty Officer Smith rescued the dog.
"I grabbed the dog with my arms, put my fins on, jumped in [the water] and did a bear hook recovery while holding the dog,” Petty Officer Smith said. “The dog was really scared and frazzled, doing everything to stay dry. I kept him up on my shoulder and he just stayed right up there. He was fine once he was away from the water and rotor wash."
The aircrew marked the location of the boat and transported the man and his dog to Spohn Memorial Hospital. The man is reported to be in stable condition.
Another Coast Guard crew and a friend of the rescued man returned later to bring the sailboat to port.