SAN DIEGO — The aunt of a 1-year-old girl rescued at sea by the U.S. Navy says the baby’s fever is gone, and she is responding well to medication after showing salmonella-like symptoms before her family’s sailboat broke down.
Sariah English told The Associated Press on Monday that her niece, Lyra Kaufman, was checked by military medical personnel after being boarded onto the USS Vandegrift on Sunday morning, however her illness has not yet been diagnosed by a physician.
English said her sister, Charlotte Kaufman, called her from the warship and told her that Lyra was bouncing back with new medication. The girl had salmonella before they left on their trip but was thought to have recovered.
The Kaufmans and their two children were rescued 900 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
The parents defended their decision to sail with two young children on a trip around the world aboard a 36-foot sailboat.
“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,” Eric and Charlotte Kaufman said in a statement from the USS Vandegrift.
“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,” the statement said.
The Kaufmans, with Lyra and her 3-year-old sister, Cora, had started across the Pacific in March when the baby girl developed a fever and a rash covering most of her body and wasn’t responding to medications. They sent a satellite call for help to the U.S. Coast Guard on Thursday after their 36-foot sailboat Rebel Heart lost steering and communication abilities.
Four California Air National Guard members parachuted into the water and reached the boat Thursday night. The crew stabilized the girl, stayed by her side and then hopped on an inflatable boat with the family to board the USS Vandegrift.
The frigate was expected to arrive in San Diego midweek, Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Barry Bena said.
Authorities decided to sink the Rebel Heart because it was taking on water, Bena said.
The Kaufmans said in the statement they were disappointed to lose their sailboat they called home.
When her sister first mentioned plans to sail with two young children, English recalled, “I thought it was nuts.”
But English said the couple was always careful. Eric Kaufman is a Coast Guard-licensed captain who introduced sailing to Charlotte Kaufman during one of their early dates.
“They were not going into this blind. I knew they were doing this wisely,” English said.