Woman rescued at sea with sick child sues satellite phone co.

SAN DIEGO (LOG NEWS SERVICE) — A woman rescued with her husband and two young daughters from a disabled sailboat hundreds of miles off the Mexican coast after her youngest daughter became ill is suing a satellite phone company, contending her family lost their boat because their satellite phone service was wrongly disconnected.

Charlotte Kaufman, her husband Eric, and their two daughters set sail March 20 from Nayarit, Mexico aboard their 36-foot sailboat on an around-the-world cruise.

Two weeks into a journey bound for French Polynesia their 1-year old daughter, Lyra, became ill and failed to respond to the antibiotics they had on board.

Charlotte Kaufman said that her husband used the satellite phone to call the Coast Guard for advice. The Coast Guard told him that a doctor would return his call. However before he received a reply the company deactivated the phone, preventing him from receiving a return call.

The complaint filed July 14 in the Superior Court in San Diego by Charlotte Kaufman against Whenever Communications, LLC doing business as  SattellitePhoneStore.com, claims that if they hadn’t lost service, they would’ve been able to get medical advice over the satellite phone.

Instead, she said, they were forced to activate an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon on April 3 that alerted the Coast Guard and set off a huge rescue effort that involved pararescuemen from the California National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing based at Moffett Federal Airfield near San Francisco and the Navy’s guided-missile frigate USS Vandegrift that eventually brought the family back to San Diego.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported July 16 that Attorney Matthew Herron, representing Whenever Communications said that he had sent a letter to the Kaufman’s San Diego home addressing the SIM card switch, but that the family had already departed for Mexico. Herron also said the company sent an email to the Kaufman’s dated April 15 — nearly two weeks after the at-sea incident, the newspaper reported.

Rebel Heart, the 36-foot sailboat that had been the Kaufman’s home for seven years, was scuttled by the rescuers to prevent it from becoming a hazard to navigation.

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