A 67-year-old fisherman who went missing Thanksgiving Day off the coast of Hawaii has been found and rescued 64 miles out to sea – nine days after the US Coast Guard called off search efforts for him.
Ron Ingraham reemerged with a simple distress signal on Tuesday morning. “We got a mayday here. Mayday. This is the Malia. Anybody picking up?” he said.
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Ingraham was found dehydrated and hungry, but otherwise in good health. A Coast Guard cutter towed his crippled 25-foot sailboat, the Malia, back to its port in Kaunakakai.
Ingraham will arrive home in time to attend his own funeral – which friends and family had planned for this Saturday, KITV reports.
His son, Zakary Ingraham, told KHNL-TV he got a call at his home in St. Joseph, Missouri on Tuesday morning, informing him of the good news.
“They said, ‘Well we’ve found your dad. He’s alive and well on his boat. For him to be found is awesome. I can’t believe it.”
Ron Ingraham, an experienced fisherman, was sailing solo from Kaunakakai Harbor to Manele Bay on Lanai on November 27, Thanksgiving Day – a voyage that should have put him no more than five miles away from land at any time.
But something went awry. On the day he left, he sent out two distress signals that his boat was taking on water. The Coast Guard pinpointed his message as coming 46 miles west of Kailua-Kona – far off his course.
The Coast Guard embarked on a massive search effort – flying 59 airborne mission that covered 12,000 square miles in five days. However, the distress signal went dark and planes and helicopters found no trace of Ingraham’s boat.
On December 1, the Coast Guard commanders called off the search effort.
Nine days later, he resurfaced with a life-saving mayday call. A Coast Guard post picked up the distress signal and pinpointed it 64 miles south of Oahu – about 80 miles from his first distress call.
A Navy destroyer, the USS Paul Hamilton was nearby and came to Ingraham’s aid.
Coast guard authorities are still in the dark in how the experienced fisherman ended so far from shore or how he survived for 12 days at sea.