ARRL

ARRL Special Bulletin ARLX005 (2000)

SB SPCL @ ARL $ARLX005
ARLX005 Hams Help Get Wounded Boy from High Seas to Hospital

ZCZC AX05
QST de W1AW  
Special Bulletin 5  ARLX005
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  March 29, 2000
To all radio amateurs 

SB SPCL ARL ARLX005
ARLX005 Hams Help Get Wounded Boy from High Seas to Hospital

In a dramatic situation that is still unfolding in Central America,
Amateur Radio operators on the 20-meter Maritime Net have helped get
a wounded boy to safety following an attack by what are being called
''pirates.''

The nightmare began the afternoon of March 28 for the family of
Jacco van Tuyl, KH2TD, as he and his 13-year-old son Willem, were in
inflatable dinghy, not far from their 44-foot sailing sloop. Wife
and mother Jannie van Tuyl, KH2TE, remained aboard the sailboat.

Jacco van Tuyl said the family had left the San Blas Islands a
couple of days ago and was anchored behind a reef with a couple of
other sailboats in the vicinity--one at anchor--some 50 miles off
the coast of Honduras.

The father and son were visiting with acquaintances the other
anchored sailboat when Jacco van Tuyl saw four or five men in an
open wooden boat come alongside his vessel and board.

van Tuyl and his son headed back toward their vessel, but one of the
pirates brandished a machine gun when they were about 20 yards away.
In ensuing gunfire, the boy was wounded in the abdomen and the
dinghy was damaged and flipped over. van Tuyl said the marauders
''got nervous'' and left the scene after taking the damaged dinghy and
outboard motor aboard.

van Tuyl hauled his injured son, bleeding badly, back to his
sailboat and got him aboard. van Tuyl checked into the Maritime Net
on 14.300 MHz, seeking urgent assistance. The other two vessels in
the vicinity and the van Tuyl's then pulled anchor and headed for
Honduras.

In the meantime, the family rendered first aid to Willem. Two
Amateur Radio-physicians--one believed to be Jim Hirschman,
K4TCV--in Florida provided the family with valuable medical advice
that van Tuyl thinks helped to keep the youth alive overnight until
they could rendezvous with a Honduran Navy vessel that had been
alerted by another amateur on the Net. In the US, Clark Lowry,
N7AAC, in Arizona, was among those on the Net who contacted the US
Coast Guard to render possible assistance.

The van Tuyl's vessel arrived this morning off Honduras.

After mother and son were taken aboard the Honduran Naval vessel at
around 9 AM Wednesday (ET), they were helicoptered to a hospital
facility on shore. The boy was reported to be in stable condition
but headed for surgery Wednesday afternoon. Ed Petzolt, K1LNC, in
Florida was able to phone patch the van Tuyls via Amateur Radio so
they could discuss their son's current condition. He was able to
call the hospital with the help of information from the US Embassy
in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Jacco van Tuyl remains aboard his boat, awaiting further word on his
son's condition.

The van Tuyls are from the Netherlands and have been sailing all
over the world for the past five years, logging some 40,000 miles of
travel. Jacco van Tuyl said he and his wife decided to get their
Amateur Radio tickets during an extended stay in Guam. Both hold
General class licenses. van Tuyl agreed that the decision to get
licensed turned out to be a good one.
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/EX