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Boat, Crew Sought After Distress Call

Times Staff Writers

Coast Guard cutters and helicopters were joined by Baywatch boats and a U.S. Navy hovercraft Tuesday in a search for a vessel that reportedly was struck by lightning the night before, authorities said.

The Coast Guard said it received a distress call at 11:48 p.m. Monday claiming to be from a 20-foot sailing vessel named the Pelican, said Petty Officer Nathan Henise. The caller said the vessel was taking on water after being hit by lightning about 15 miles off Dana Point, Henise said.

About 20 minutes later, the crew member called back and said the four-person crew had taken life vests, flares and flashlights and were about to abandon ship, Henise said.

“We’re still searching,” Henise said Tuesday afternoon. “But so far we’ve had negative results. There’s no sign of the vessel or the crew.”

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Although the Coast Guard occasionally receives hoax calls, officials said, they could not be sure whether the call was real, but were duty-bound to act upon it as if it were authentic.

Air and sea vessels, including the Coast Guard cutter Narwhal from Corona del Mar and an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles searched the coast from Oceanside to Point Dume.


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