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Lost in Time

Story by U.S. Coast Guard,
8th District Public Affairs

USCG Float Plan PowerPoint PresentationMOBILE, AL - Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans area Coast Guard units searched the Gulf of Mexico, south of Alabama, for a family of five who were reported missing in a 32-foot shrimp boat.  After four days of searching more than 13,500 miles of ocean, an area larger than the state of Maryland, the searchers’ fears became reality when one victim was located deceased among a debris field.

Although the victim was wearing a life jacket, which is critical in survival at sea, it was the lack of information on the family’s location that frustrated search and rescue controllers in the Eighth District.

“When the initial report came in reporting the Krumm family overdue, we were told they went shark fishing 40-miles south of Alabama in the Gulf.  That’s an immense area- the location was much too vague,” Gatlin said.

The search and rescue controllers combined what little information they had on the Krumm family’s location, the day’s weather forecast and sea state into a computer program known as Computer Aided Search Planning (CASP) to “map out” a search plan.  Unfortunately, the area was more than 1,600 square miles, larger than the state of Rhode Island.  An area that far exceeded the endurance for any Eighth District unit.

“Our grid for the initial search was so large, we requested a C-130 long distance plane from Air Station Clearwater, Fla., because we don’t have an aircraft here with 12 hours worth of endurance,” he said.

Once the controllers had a search area, which was west of the shipping lanes south of Mobile, they dispatched six different rescue units.

The margin of error for the Krumm family not to be somewhere in that search grid, and not to be located by a Coast Guard unit, was huge, Gatlin commented.

But the search grid CASP recommended was correct.  And less than six hours into the search for the family of five, a boat crew from Station Pascagoula, Miss., located a debris field, which contained items from the Krumm’s boat, approximately five miles southeast of Horn Island; one of the barrier islands to Mississippi.

Soon after locating the debris field of life jackets, a life ring, some clothing, a mattress, a cooler, seat cushions and pieces of a fiberglass boat, the wind was sucked from the rescue portion of search and rescue, as searchers located the body of a young woman.  Although 19-year-old Sabrina Krumm was wearing a lifejacket, the Jackson County Coroner stated Sabrina’s cause of death was drowning.

Two days later, searchers hadn’t located any of the four other missing boaters, and officials had to make the tough decision to suspend the active search for them.  Five days later, Coast Guard personnel and the Bon Secour, Ala., Fire and Rescue officials recovered two more bodies from the tragic voyage.

No one could have looked into a crystal ball and seen the outcome to the Krumm’s voyage, nor does anyone know if a proper float plan would have assured their rescue.  If a float plan was completed, the valuable time lost to investigating the Krumm’s potential location would have been eliminated, allowing units more time to search--and possibly save a life.

Safety is simple when you have a plan™
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