Pacific Ocean rescue has New Mexico ties

LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – The story of a family stranded at sea with a sick little girl has some strong New Mexico ties, from relatives to rescuers.

It’s been a long weekend on the sea for a San Diego family, dealing with a busted boat and a very sick little girl.

“It’s been very overwhelming,” Sariah English said. “This is not what we expected when they planned to sail around the world.

English resides in Albuquerque. Her sister, Charlotte Kaufman, was on board the “Rebel Heart” along with her husband and two kids, some 900 miles west of Cabo San Lucas.

“My sister and I are very close and to not be there to help her has been really hard,” English said. “I just want to be able to hear her voice and know it’s okay.”

That isn’t the only New Mexican connection when it comes to this story.

“As parents, we were pretty nervous all weekend,” Tony Woodard said.

Woodard’s son Sean was part of the rescue effort after the boat sent out a distress signal.

“If they were needed, they were going to make the flight out over the water.”

Sean, a 30-year-old Combat Rescue Flight Engineer, is stationed out of Moffett Air Base in California.

He’s originally from Albuquerque and used to be the F-16 crew chief at Kirtland Air Force Base. No stranger to tough missions, he told his parents this was different.

“Even with Afghanistan, all the stuff he’s done, he’s never called me and said dad this is going to be a rough one,” Woodard said.

Sean would hang back, on standby in Cabo, just in case things took a turn for the worse.

Thankfully, the rescue was a success and the couple’s 13-month-old is doing much better.

“I’m just anxious to be with my sister again and her kids,” English said.

A Navy ship picked up the family earlier this morning. According to English’s Facebook page, the “Rebel Heart” sunk. The family is due back in San Diego on Tuesday.

Once on dry land, the family is expected to visit English in New Mexico. No word yet on when that might be.

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