Coast Guard Needs Two Attempts at Cruise Ship Medevac Amid Severe Weather in Gulf of Mexico

A medical evacuation from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico proved anything but routine for a US Coast Guard crew on April 29, as bad weather forced a first attempt to be abandoned, and imperiled the responding helicopter.

The dramatic scene was recorded by passenger Kim Soares, and shows a Jayhawk helicopter struggling to hold steady near the deck of the Carnival Dream. The helicopter then moves off. At this point, the helicopter “encountered a severe downwind” the coast guard said, “prompting the aircrew to recover the aircraft close to the water’s surface.” The Jayhawk helicopter then returned to base, the coast guard said, along with an Ocean Sentry aircraft that had also been deployed.

Video by Soares shows the dramatic moments the helicopter came close to the water.

“As they were attempting the rescue the weather deteriorated quickly,” Soares told Storyful. “They had to abandon the rescue attempt and leave both the patient and their rescue swimmer behind.”

Soares said that she feared what might happen as she watched the helicopter become more and more unstable, but that the pilot did “an amazing job regaining control.”

“About six hours later they sent another helicopter to rescue both the patient and the rescue swimmer,” she said.

Cmdr Keith Blair, of Air Station New Orleans, told United States Coast Guard News the patient, a 76-year-old man, was taken to University Medical Center in stable condition. Blair praised the “exceptional real-time risk management, crew resource management, and superb piloting,” of the aircrew involved. Credit: Kim Soares via Storyful

Video transcript

- [INAUDIBLE]. Oh my God. Oh my God.

- Oh, no. Get out of the wind, baby.