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Navy rescues family with sick baby from sailboat

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- U.S. sailors rescued a family with an ill 1-year-old baby from a disabled sailboat hundreds of miles off the Mexican coast and were headed Sunday to San Diego to get the girl medical treatment.

The girl, along with her parents and 3-year-old sister, were helped onto an inflatable raft and then taken aboard the USS Vandegrift at 8 a.m. Sunday. The baby girl was in stable condition and was heading to San Diego for medical treatment, the Coast Guard said in a news release.

Charlotte and Eric Kaufman were two weeks into their trip to sail the world when their daughter, Lyra, developed a fever and a rash covering most of her body and wasn't responding to medications. Then, their 36-foot sailboat lost steering and communication abilities about 900 miles off Mexico. They sent a satellite call for help to the U.S. Coast Guard on Thursday.

A California Air National Guard crew parachuted into the water and reached the boat Thursday night. The crew stabilized the girl and stayed by her side until the ship arrived.

The California Air National Guard dispatched four rescuers, who parachuted into the water and reached the disabled vessel. The team was able to stabilize the girl and pointed the sailboat, which does not have steering or communication abilities, toward Mexico, the 129th Rescue Wing said in a statement.

The rescuers stayed aboard the Rebel Heart to keep watch on the ill child until daylight when sailors helped them board the Navy frigate.

Before the family left, Lyra had salmonella poisoning, but doctors cleared her to travel after she was healthy again, said Charlotte Kaufman's sister, Sariah Kay English.

English initially was in daily email contact with the family but realized something was wrong when the communication stopped several days ago.

English said she was told the vessel took on water every time the motor was turned on. It's now slowly moving using only the sails.

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.

English said the couple made a network of friends who traveled around the globe with children and always stocked the sailboat with more food than they need.

“They were very overcautious. They're not new at sailing,” English said. Unfortunately, “sickness sometimes happens.”

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