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ARRL Special Bulletin ARLX006 (2000)

ARLX006 Ham Radio Efforts Continue Following High-Seas Rescue

QST de W1AW  
Special Bulletin 6  ARLX006
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  March 30, 2000
To all radio amateurs 

ARLX006 Ham Radio Efforts Continue Following High-Seas Rescue

ARRL 1999 International Humanitarian Award winner Ed Petzolt, K1LNC,
has appealed to the White House in efforts to expedite US medical
aid for a 13-year-old boy seriously wounded by gunfire in an attack
by pirates off Honduras. Amateur Radio operators on the 20-meter
Maritime Net rallied to help get the injured youngster to safety
following the attack Tuesday, after marauders had boarded his
family's sailing sloop.

''Your help is urgently needed by these people to get their son to
the US so that he may live,'' Petzolt said in a follow-up e-mail
message today to the White House Agency Liaison.

Young Willem van Tuyl of the Netherlands now is in a hospital in La
Saba, Honduras, after being transported by the Honduran Navy and a
medevac helicopter in a rescue effort aided by Amateur Radio
communications. The boy underwent surgery yesterday in La Saba.
Doctors there have recommended he be taken to the US for further
treatment for his serious and potentially life-threatening injuries.

Willem--the son of Jacco and Jannie van Tuyl, KH2TD and KH2TE
respectively--was injured when one of four or five pirates opened
fire on the teen and his father while they were in an inflatable
dinghy, not far from their 44-foot sailing sloop. The group of
pirates also attempted to tie up the boy's mother, who had remained
aboard the sailboat while the father and son went to visit another
vessel anchored nearby.

Jacco van Tuyl said the family was anchored behind a reef at the
time, in open water some 50 miles off the coast of Honduras. Neither
van Tuyl nor his wife was injured.

van Tuyl said the pirates took the damaged dinghy and outboard and
left the scene soon after the shooting. After calling for help on
the Maritime Net, van Tuyl spent the night Tuesday in the company of
two other vessels, getting to a spot where he could rendezvous with
a Honduran Navy vessel and get his son to a hospital. The transfer
took place Wednesday morning when the Honduran boat picked up both
the mother and son. Amateurs in the US--alerted to the incident by
the Maritime Net activity--had contacted the US Coast Guard, which,
in turn got in touch with Honduran authorities who came on frequency
to coordinate the rescue effort with van Tuyl. A ham-doctor, Jim
Hirschman, K4TCV, in Miami, also provided the family with on-the-air
medical advice.

Petzolt was later able to phone patch the van Tuyls via Amateur
Radio so they could discuss their son's current condition.

Still in his boat, Jacco van Tuyl has been under way to French
Harbor, about 50 miles from the hospital. Hams and sailors in French
Harbor reportedly have alerted the local customs officials. van Tuyl
hopes to be at his son's bedside this evening.

Doctors reportedly have told the family that if Willem does not get
proper medical followup within the next day or two, it could lead to
irreversible complications.


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