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Air National Guard, Navy, Coast Guard in rescue effort for sick child

U.S. Navy

SAN DIEGO -- Four rescue specialists from the California Air National Guard remain aboard a disabled sailboat to treat a sick child, the Guard's 129th Rescue Wing said late Saturday afternoon.

No decision has been made whether the child will be transferred to a U.S. Navy ship headed toward the boat or evacuated by air to San Diego, a Guard spokesman said. The sailboat is estimated to be more than 1,000 miles off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

The effort to help the child has involved the Coast Guard, Air National Guard and Navy. It began late Thursday when the San Diego family aboard the 36-foot sailing boat Rebel Heart sent a distress message via satellite phone to the Coast Guard that the 1-year-old child was sick.

By late Thursday, four para-rescuemen -- described as a cross between combat medics and Navy SEALs -- plunged into the water from a fixed-wing aircraft and swam to the sailboat, said 2nd Lt. Roderick B. Bersamina, spokesman for the 129th Rescue Wing based at Moffett Federal Airfield in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The child was treated with medication and reportedly in stable condition, Bersamina said. The sailboat "for all intents and purposes is dead in the water and drifting south," he said.

The family was on a worldwide trip. The para-rescuemen will stay with the child to make sure she does not relapse, Bersamina said. She had been suffering a severe rash and high temperature.

Also aboard the boat are the girl's parents, Eric and Charlotte Kaufman, and their 3-year-old daughter, Cora. They had been at sea about two weeks when the younger child, Lyra, became sick.

The San Diego-based frigate Vandegrift was expected to reach the sailboat by midnight Saturday. "The situation is very fluid," Bersamina said.

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tony.perry@latimes.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Twitter: @LATsandiego

tony.perry@latimes.com

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