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NEWS | April 7, 2014

Sick baby and her family aboard Navy frigate after 129th Rescue Wing rescue

By Steve Marshall National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va. - A California family stranded in choppy waters of the Pacific Ocean with a very ill baby girl was safely aboard a Navy ship Monday, enroute to San Diego, military spokesmen said.

The family boarded the USS Vandegrift after pararescuemen from the 129th Rescue Wing reached the boat Thursday night, assessed and stabilized the baby.

The ill girl, identified by the Associated Press as Lyra Kaufman, 1, was in stable condition aboard the Navy vessel. Sailors assisted her and her family aboard the ship Sunday morning.

The family includes her sister, Cora, 3, and parents, Charlette and Eric Kaufman. The Kaufmans were attempting a round-the-world voyage on their 36-foot sailboat Rebel Heart, when the boat became disabled just as Lyra’s condition worsened.

Authorities as of Monday still weren’t sure what Illness the little girl has. Her symptoms included fever and a rash over most of her body.

Because the sailboat was taking on so much water, authorities were sinking it, the AP reported.

The 129th Rescue Wing was alerted to the emergency by the Coast Guard, which received a satellite distress call from the Kaufmans after their vessel lost steering and communications about 900 nautical miles off the coast of Mexico.

In a statement published on the U.S. Navy's website, the Kaufman family said: "First, we would like to express how grateful we are to the men and women of the Coast Guard, California Air National Guard and Navy who rescued our family, especially the pararescuemen and crew of USS Vandegrift. We are very thankful to be safe and well. We also appreciate all the concern, thoughts and prayers of everyone back home for the health of our daughter Lyra. She is doing well now, and her medical condition continues to improve.

We understand there are those who question our decision to sail with our family, but please know that this is how our family has lived for seven years, and when we departed on this journey more than a year ago, we were then and remain today confident that we prepared as well as any sailing crew could. The ocean is one of the greatest forces of nature, and it always has
the potential to overcome those who live on or near it. We are proud of our choices and our preparation, and while we are disappointed that we lost our sailboat and our home, we remain grateful for those who came to our aid and those family and friends who continue to encourage and support us. Thank you.