Burst appendix spurs Navy rescue

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by greeneagle5, Dec 19, 2007.

  1. greeneagle5

    greeneagle5 Member

    Dec 5, 2007
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    Burst appendix spurs Navy cruise rescue By ALLISON HOFFMAN, Associated Press Writer

    An Illinois teenager whose appendix ruptured at sea, hundreds of miles from help, got safely to shore Tuesday after an unusual rescue in which the Navy airlifted her from a cruise ship for emergency surgery.

    Laura Montero, 14, of Albion, Ill., fell ill aboard the Dawn Princess cruise ship off the coast of Baja California. The Bahamian-registered ship sent out a distress call Friday that was answered by the USS Ronald Reagan, which was on training maneuvers about 500 miles away.

    Montero, a fair-haired girl with bright blue eyes, appeared to be doing well as she gave a brief interview with reporters at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.

    "I'd like to thank the captain of the Dawn Princess, the surgeon and the crew and everyone on the USS Ronald Reagan," she said quietly, then flashed a shy grin. She said she was usually "a tiny bit" scared of heights but hadn't been nervous when she was hoisted on a flat stretcher into the helicopter that came to fetch her.

    "I was in pain," she said.

    The Reagan, a nuclear carrier, was the closest ship with a hospital facility, according to a news release from the Navy. It steamed overnight toward the cruise ship, which was about 250 miles northwest of Cabo San Lucas when the call went out.

    A helicopter took off from the Reagan around 5 a.m. Saturday to close the final 175-mile gap between the ships. The crew arrived after a 45-minute flight and lowered a medic onto the cruise ship deck in a basket because there wasn't space to land, said Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Leland, the pilot.

    Montero, who was on an antibiotic drip, was loaded into a litter basket, lifted into the helicopter and flown back to the Reagan for an appendectomy. Her mother stayed aboard the cruise ship.

    "We practice this all the time, but this is the first time I've pulled a civilian off a cruise ship," Leland said.

    A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises, which operates the Dawn Princess, said the ship's captain called the Coast Guard for help because he felt that would be faster than diverting to the nearest Mexican port.

    "Where the ship was, where the land was and the fact that the Ronald Reagan had (a surgical facility) on board were all factors that came into play," said Julie Benson. "The option is to go to the nearest medical facility that can treat the patient."

    The Dawn Princess returned to its home port of San Diego over the weekend from its regular weeklong run along the Baja California coast to the resorts of Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

    The Reagan, which carries as many as 6,000 crew members and costs about $2.5 million a day to operate while under way, returned Tuesday morning, its scheduled return from the training tour.

    Montero is expected to make a full recovery. A doctor at the children's hospital said he anticipated she would be back home by Christmas.
  2. usnahopeful

    usnahopeful USNA Midshipman

    Aug 1, 2006
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    That was definitely an amazing rescue by the pilots! My Venturing Adviser was doing a Venturing training on the ship when the girls appendix burst and he was in the medical center talking to the nurse and her parents. He even offered to go for the parents in the basket up to the chopter (he is retired Navy). However, they of course went up, but he had a great front row seat of the helicopter extraction :). I'll post pictures when I get them from him.
  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

    Nov 25, 2007
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    Nice job Navy.
  4. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

    Jun 9, 2006
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    I think your venturing advisor may be embellishing his side of the story a little bit. I would take everything every passenger off this ship has to say with a grain of salt.

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