Coast Guard rescues hypothermic miners near Haines

Courtesy: MGN
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KODIAK, Alaska (KTUU) - Two stranded, hypothermic miners working on the Tsirku River are recovering after being rescued by Coast Guard crews, officials said Saturday.

A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew rescued two men from a location off the Chilkat River, about 23 miles north of Haines, Saturday morning.

According to a release from the agency, the Jayhawk aircrew took the men to awaiting emergency medical services personnel in Juneau. They were mildly hypothermic, the Coast Guard said.

Coast Guard crews stepped in after Alaska State Troopers requested assistance in the rescue via watchstanders at District 17. The men were reportedly transferring mining equipment when they swamped and submerged their vehicle in a remote portion of the site.

The two apparently became stranded Friday afternoon at around 2:30 in the afternoon, but made a make-shift shelter in a ditch to try and protect themselves. The shelter was about 250 yards from the water, Coast Guard officials said, but the men had trouble maintaining their fire.

An Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew was launched and recovered the two men Saturday morning.

“This is one of those cases that reminds us how important it is to prepare for any outdoor activity here in Alaska,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Dave Hastings, an avionics electrical technician on the case, via the release from the Coast Guard.

“Having the proper equipment and clothing was their saving grace in this situation," he said. "Despite the degraded weather, we were still able to communicate and triumph over the severe winter weather.”