June 9, 2008
Alaska fast ferry rescues three
The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) fast ferry Chenega was involved in a dramatic rescue Sunday afternoon.
Chenega and its crew departed Whittier at 4 p.m. and encountered a debris field six minutes into its transit to Cordova. The crew spotted the debris and three boaters about a mile southeast of Billing Creek in Passage Canal.
Chenega's skipper, Capt. Samuel Daniels, immediately sounded the "code blue" signal alerting the crew and passengers of people in distress. Daniels also shifted control of Chenega from the bridge to the port bridge wing to maneuver the ship closer to the three people in the water.
Within three minutes, Chenega's Fast Rescue Boat (FRB) crew sped to the boaters who were clinging to debris to remain afloat. Chenega's crew rescued 28-year-old Luke Renner of Homer and Andy Renner, 31 and his eight-year-old son Owen, both of Palmer. Their 22-foot pleasure boat reportedly sank after the vessel's bow was struck by several waves.
"I was so amazed at how fast the crew got to us," said Luke Renner. "I'll be booking reservations on the ferries from now on."
The FRB transported the threesome to Chenega where they received medical attention from the crew and passengers Laura Evans and Kristin Burkart, intensive care unit doctors from New York City.
Chenega returned to the Whittier Ferry Terminal where it was met by a Whittier Fire Department ambulance crew who took the Renners to a medical facility in Anchorage for treatment of hypothermia.