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Thread: A Rescue With A Happy Ending

  1. #1

    A Rescue With A Happy Ending

    "SAN FRANCISCO -- A windsurfer was discovered in the San Francisco Bay early Tuesday, more than 12 hours after she was reported missing in the waters near Coyote Point, and was being treated at San Francisco General Hospital, authorities said.

    Petty Officer Emily Wilhite said a helicopter lowered a rescue swimmer into waters close to the center span just north of the San Mateo Bridge after the Coast Guard found 62-year-old Cathy Caton in stable condition just after 6 a.m.

    Katon, who was an expert windsurfer with more than 20 years of experience, left her husband on the shores along East Third Avenue in Foster City on her windsurfing board and planned to return around 5:30 p.m., Coast Guard Sector San Francisco senior chief Douglas Samp said.

    When Katon did not come back, her husband grew worried and called 911, Samp said. The Coast Guard was notified of Katon's disappearance at about 7:20 p.m.

    Despite Katon's experience, her husband told the Coast Guard he was nervous she might be weak because she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment, Wilhite said.

    It is unclear if Katon suffered any injuries, but the Coast Guard said she was in stable condition and would be taken to the hospital for further evaluation.

    Boats and helicopters scanned the water for more than 10 hours, most of which in the dark, in the area where Katon was last seen. The Coast Guard also launched a shoreline search from San Francisco's Hunters Point neighborhood to the San Mateo Bridge, Samp said.

    The Alameda County Fire Department and the San Francisco Fire Department Airport Division also provided assistance with the search efforts."
    Last edited by PD Staff; 07-19-2011 at 11:27 AM. ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~

  2. #2
    Great - thanks for posting - I saw the news headline today and was bummed - Kept an extra eye out when crossing the bridge but didn't see any S&R so had bad thoughts her body had been found.

  3. #3

    Cathy Caton, whose husband described her as an experienced windsurfer, was spotted draped over her board by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew about 200 yards north of the San Mateo Bridge near Foster City at about 6 a.m.

    Coast Guard Petty Officer Gabe Pulliam, a trained swimmer, was lowered into the water and brought Caton into the helicopter. (Video of the rescue can be seen at

    "I told her we'd been looking for her all night, and she said, 'I know,' " Pulliam said at a news conference at the Coast Guard Air Station at San Francisco International Airport. "I just asked her if she was OK, and she said, 'Yes, I'm just ready to get home.' "

    He said, "She was just so relieved to get out of the water."

    Caton was, "surprisingly, in an excellent state of mind," Pulliam said. "She didn't complain, did not panic once. Calm, cool and collected, that's all I can say."

    Caton was taken to Coast Guard Station in San Francisco to be evaluated, said her husband, Steve Hamman, 63. She declined to be taken to a hospital, and the couple - both retired doctors in internal medicine - drove straight home.

    "She's doing pretty well," Hamman said. "She's cold, but otherwise looks alert and is doing OK."

    "We're elated, of course," said Coast Guard Petty Officer Emily Wilhite. "We spent hours and hours searching last night, so to be able to find her this morning was a really good thing."

    Hamman said Caton floated underneath the bridge during high tide Monday evening and "came back through the bridge when it started ebbing."

    This morning, he said, Caton was "picked up on the north side (of the bridge) when the tide started going out."

    Caton left the Foster City shoreline near East Third Avenue at about 5 p.m. Monday. Hamman was there to see her off, then went windsurfing himself. When she did not return, he called for help.

    Caton told Pulliam that "her sail fell in the middle of her outing and she wasn't able to piece it back together."

    To make matters worse, her marine radio's battery failed after 10 minutes, her strobe-light battery didn't work and she didn't realize that she had a whistle with her, Hamman said.

    "There are a number of things we could have done that would have prevented the whole thing," Hamman acknowledged. "We were remiss, and in spite of that, we had a good ending."

    The conditions for Caton's survival were favorable. It wasn't particularly cold, the water was 70 degrees and the waves were calm, according to the Coast Guard.

    Caton was also "dressed for the cold. She had a wetsuit and boots, gloves, a hat and a flotation device, so all that helps," Hamman said.

    He added, "She has a lot of stamina."

    Hamman said he was "appreciative of the competency of the Coast Guard" and the other agencies that helped in the 82-square-mile search, including Hayward, Foster City and Alameda County firefighters and rescue crews.

    Pulliam said the helicopter crew found Caton just 10 minutes into their first flight of the day.

    "It was a complete team effort," Pulliam said. "It started with the survivor wearing the right gear."

    He said the rescue "went perfectly. We train every single day to do this mission. You just fall back on your training so you can do it with your eyes closed."

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  4. #4
    I rarely see kite/wind boarders with VHFs..... nice to hear she had one. Bet she keeps it charged up next time !

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