Ferry crew honored for rescue

Published 12:31 pm Monday, June 24, 2024

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All that weekly training by North Carolina ferry crews paid off one cold January day.

The day was overcast. The wind was blowing and the sea was acting up in Hatteras Inlet.

Two men wearing waders, Mike Herulan of Salisbury and Doug Illing of Myrtle Beach, S.C., along with dog Fin, were duck hunting. Their small boat capsized. The hunters were hanging on the boat, which was getting sucked out to sea.

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Meanwhile at Ocracoke-South Dock Terminal, M/V Hatteras was tying up and crew members spotted the hunters. Captain William “Bill” Davis, from Morehead City, sounded the general alarm and called the U.S. Coast Guard. The M/V Hatteras crew knew what to do.

A vividly orange rescue boat with an outboard motor and a wide gunnel was launched. Crew members AB Gerald Huneycutt, from Gloucester in Carteret County, and Ordinary Seaman David Butler, from Bath, wearing orange life vests piloted that boat a half mile to pull the two hunters out of the 52-degree water. The two men said Fin was trapped under the boat. Huneycutt and Butler rescued the dog. The hunters and dog were returned to M/V Hatteras uninjured.

Ferry board crews practice water rescues once a week. This crew knew what to do quickly to save lives. In addition to Capt. Davis, Huneycutt and Butler, Senior AB Caleb Fulford, from Washington, N.C., Chief Engineer Robert Meekins, from Avon, and Oiler Amanda Przygodzinski, from Beaufort, were members of the crew on that cold Jan. 12, 2024.

On May 2, 2024, the North Carolina Board of Transportation honored the six crew members. On Monday, May 20, 2024, at the Hatteras Ferry Dock, Ferry Division director Jed Dixon presented each of the crew members with the department’s Extra Mile award, as recommended by a departmental committee.

Also on May 20, the crew was presented the U.S. Coast Guard’s Certificate of Merit and Recognition of Notable Services that have Assisted Greatly in Furthering the Aims and Functions of the Coast Guard. The presentation was made by Corrie Sergent, deputy commander for U.S. Coast Guard Sector North Carolina.

The May 20 ceremony featured music by ferry division musicians Tommy Ruark on saxophone and Brian McArthur on guitar. In attendance were members of the U.S. Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet, and dignitaries from Hyde County and the Department of Transportation.