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Copper River: Coast Guard rescues six people from hovercraft

CORDOVA, Alaska — An Air Station Kodiak MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew flies over a hovercraft on the Copper River after the operator beached it to avoid capsizing June 25, 2012. The crew of the Dolphin was able to safely transfer the six personnel from the hovercraft to a nearby highway. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Kodiak.

KODIAK, Alaska — A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew, operating out of Cordova, rescued six people from a disabled hovercraft on the Copper River Monday.

 A 17th Coast Guard District command center watchstander received a distress call from a friend of the hovercraft operator stating the propeller was damaged and they had beached the craft on an island in the river to avoid capsizing. The hovercraft operator encountered the trouble after assisting five people whose inflatable pontoon boat ran aground on a sand flat on the Copper River near Cordova Sunday.

 The Dolphin crew arrived on scene at 8:46 p.m., safely hoisted the six people from the hovercraft and transported them to a nearby highway where they were picked up by the friend who had reported the distress situation.

 “This is one of the many times that the forward-deployed Dolphin in Cordova has been vital for a rescue case,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Luna, a watchstander with the 17th District command center. “Having a well-trained crew in an area with increased summer traffic absolutely saves lives.”