UK & World News

  • 7 April 2014, 12:50

Navy Rescue: Parents Defend Decision To Sail

The parents of a one-year-old girl who was rescued from a stranded vessel have defended their decision to sail with young children.

Lyra and her family boarded a Navy warship after the rescue by frogmen of the California Air National Guard, and were heading to San Diego where the girl can receive further medical treatment.

She is reported to be improving.

"The baby is doing very well, her fever is gone," said the girl's aunt Sariah Kay English. She quoted the ship commander as saying "she is more than stable". 

Meanwhile, the girl's parents issued a statement from the USS Vandegrift to explain their actions.

"We understand there are those who question our decision to sail with our family, but please know that this is how our family has lived for seven years, and when we departed on this journey more than a year ago, we were then and remain today confident that we prepared as well as any sailing crew could," the San Diego couple Eric and Charlotte Kaufman said.

"The ocean is one of the greatest forces of nature, and it always has the potential to overcome those who live on or near it.

"We are proud of our choices and our preparation," the statement said.

The Kaufmans, their one-year-old daughter Lyra and her three-year-old sister, Cora, had started across the Pacific in March when the baby girl developed a fever and a rash covering most of her body and was not responding to medications.

They sent a satellite call for help to the US Coast Guard on Thursday after their 36ft (10m) sailing boat Rebel Heart lost steering and communication about 900 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Four California Air National Guard members parachuted into the water and reached the boat on Thursday night.

The crew stabilised the girl, stayed by her side and then hopped on an inflatable boat with the family to board the USS Vandegrift.

Ms English, Charlotte Kaufman's sister, posted on her Facebook page that the family took only what they could carry from the broken boat.

The Kaufmans said in the statement they were disappointed to lose their boat, which they called home.