Crews rescue 6 from two flooding boats

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Six people were rescued from two boats taking on water near Charleston Sunday night, according to officials with the U.S. Coast Guard.

The first call for help came just before 9:30 p.m. when a 17-foot-boat became disabled in rough seas at the mouth of the Stono River.

Officials say due to uncertainty of the vessel's location and poor communications, rescue crews directed the launch of a boat crew from Coast Guard Station Charleston and a helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Facility Charleston. The aircrew spotted the boat aground in a shallow area between Kiawah Island and Folly Beach. Coast Guard boats however, were unable to access the stranded vessel.

Shortly after, the distressed ship began rapidly taking on water. The Coast Guard helicopter crew hoisted all three people off the flooding boat and flew them to Charleston Executive Airport where they declined medical treatment. St. Johns Fire Rescue and North Charleston Fire Department also assisted during the response.

At 11:35 p.m. Sunday, Sector Charleston watchstanders were notified that a 68-foot fishing vessel had struck the south jetty at the entrance to Charleston Harbor and was rapidly taking on water. Three people were on board that ship at the time. A Charleston Fire and Rescue marine unit boat responded to a Coast Guard radio broadcast about the accident and arrived on scene first, removing all three people from the boat and taking them to Wando Shrimp Company at Shem Creek where they declined medical assistance.

Only the stern of the fishing vessel was visible above the waterline when the Coast Guard boat crew from Station Charleston arrived on scene, according to the Coast Guard. The vessel's captain estimates the shrimp boat has approximately 1,200 gallons of diesel fuel on board. Coast Guard pollution responders were notified. Potential pollution is scheduled to be assessed on Monday.