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A U.S. Navy frigate -- a key piece in a complex ocean rescue -- has reached a sailboat stranded hundreds of miles off the Mexican coast to save a sick baby, according to the victims’ family.
USS Vandergrift has made contact with a 36-foot boat called the “Rebel Heart” about 900 miles from Cabo San Lucas.
On board is a seriously ill 1-year-old girl.
San Diego couple Eric and Charlotte Kaufman, along with their 1-year-old and 3-year-old daughters, set sail two weeks ago on an around-the-world journey.
But Thursday, they set out a distress call, saying the youngest girl had become violently sick. On top of that, their boat lost its steering and communication abilities.
In a large coordinated effort, the California National Air Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing worked with the Navy to send four pararescuemen, who jumped from a plane into the ocean and climbed aboard the Rebel Heart to treat the girl.
By Saturday, they said the baby’s condition had stabilized while they waited for further transportation from the Vandergrift.
According to a Facebook post from Charlotte’s sister, Sariah English, the Navy frigate made contact with the family just after 4 p.m. Saturday.
English talked with her sister shortly after, and Charlotte told her they will be transferred to the Vandergrift Sunday. The family reportedly has one trip to get their things off the boat – as much as they can carry -- before they leave it behind in the ocean.
The Kaufmans should return to San Diego on Monday. English said they requested to stay at a Navy base hotel and then travel to New Mexico, where English lives.
It’s unclear what caused the baby to fall ill. English told NBC 7 that she had diarrhea, fevers, and a large rash and had been vomiting.
In a post on her blog, Charlotte had said on March 11 that both she and her 1-year-old daughter had tested positive for salmonella.