HMS Bounty crewmember from Chicago area rescued
October 31, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Drew Salapatek, 29, was one of 14 HMS Bounty crewmembers plucked from the Atlantic as the tall ship sank.
"I just can't imagine what they went through. To be there in the dead of the night, total darkness, bobbing in those 35 foot waves," Jim Salapatek, Drew's father, said. Salapatek is from Blue Island.
For hours, Salapatek wondered if his son had been rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard off North Carolina as Hurricane Sandy struck, and if Drew was alive.
"I knew 14 had been rescued, and I was going to get one of two phone calls. And thankfully it was Drew that made that call," Salapatek said.
The HMS Bounty, a replica of the original, was built for the 1962 film "Mutiny On The Bounty," and was accustomed to rough waters. But after the ship lost its generator Monday, it started to take on water. Crews were forced into covered life rafts until the Coast Guard arrived.
"I jumped in, and I said, 'Hey, I'm Dan. I heard you guys needed a ride,'" Dan Todd, U.S. Coast Guard, said.
One by one, the survivors were led into the water and then hoisted up. The Coast Guard helicopter had to fight to keep steady in the high winds.
"If you watch the wave action below, it's almost like sickening. You almost get sea sick watching that," Salapatek said.
Drew and the other survivors were uninjured, but crew member Claudene Christian was found dead in the rolling sea. The ship's captain, Robin Walbridge, remains missing.
"It's a family, from the present crew to the past crew. There's a bond that these people have formed," Salapatek said.
Drew Salapatek remains in North Carolina with his fellow crew members. They all lived aboard the ship, so they've essentially lost their home and possessions. Jim Salapatek says a fund is being set up to help the displaced sailors at HMSBounty2012@yahoo.com.
local, eric horng
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