A Baton Rouge couple who helped save six strangers after a boat capsized Saturday in the Gulf of Mexico described their civilian rescue as “all about doing the right thing.”
Cristy Heck, 45, and Wallace Heck, 64, said that about 11 a.m. Saturday their 61-foot Viking Sport Fisherman — loaded with family and friends — traveled into Alabama waters after a Florida fishing trip when their captain, Bo Keough, spotted an overturned boat and people floating in the water about five miles from the coast of Orange Beach, Alabama.
Crew aboard the Hecks’ boat, called Heck Yea!, immediately began emergency procedures to recover the six stranded men — of whom at least two are father-and-son pairs — all from Birmingham, Cristy Heck said.
The men’s 26-foot Center Console fishing boat apparently hit increasing wind and waters of 2- or 3-foot seas before it capsized, said Wallace Heck. The stranded men, who’d been in the water around 20 minutes, all had life vests on.
“One gentleman was starting to stress a little bit. He couldn’t swim and he was holding onto the back of the boat,” Wallace Heck said, “but there’s nothing really to hold on to but a slippery bottom.”
And one of the men was trying to make a phone call to the Coast Guard, but couldn’t give physical coordinates, Cristy Heck said.
After boarding Heck Yea!, the men were given towels and water and were swiftly put in the custody of Orange Beach Fire Rescue.
“Oddly enough, we didn’t get their names,” Cristy Heck said.
None were taken to the hospital. One man had a minor leg injury from a propeller, said Orange Beach Fire Rescue Chief Shane Phillips, who also said he didn’t know the men’s names.
A representative of the Legacy Boating Club, the capsized’s boats owner, declined to comment beyond saying “we’re still investigating.”
Wallace Heck said he didn’t see any sharks in the rescue area that day, but “they’re all over the waters there.”
The Hecks downplayed claims their act was heroic.
“You never know when you could be the one stranded out there. (It was) just common courtesy, that’s all,” said Cristy Heck.
Follow Maya Lau on Twitter, @mayalau.