Rescuers of family stranded at sea say cost of mission is no issue

The Kaufman family along with their rescuers were finally back on dry land Wednesday after a high seas rescue mission saved the family from their broken sailboat, 900 miles off the coast of Mexico. However, that hasn't put an end to the controversy over whether Eric and Charlotte Kaufman were being reckless by trying to sail around the world with their daughters, Cora, 3, and Lyra, 1, especially since Lyra became sick.

They headed to the doctor's office to check on Lyra's health when they returned to land.

"We're on our way to a medical appointment, and once we're done with those things, we'll have some more information," Eric Kaufman said, declining to speak with reporters.

Just hours earlier, they got off the USS Vandergrift, which cruised into San Diego harbor finishing what was anything but a routine mission. It was diverted 1,200 miles to help rescue the Kaufmans.

Sick baby rescued at sea recovering
The family called for help last Thursday when their 36-foot sailboat was taking on water, and Lyra had a fever and rash.

A pararescue team from the California Air National Guard was sent to help.

"I was one of the four guys that jumped from the plane, landed in the water," Master Sgt. Klay Bendle said.

The rescuers' initial goal was treating the sick 1-year-old.

"[She] wasn't quite on death's door yet, but a couple more days, she would have been," Bendle said.

On Sunday the family was transferred to the Vandergrift. The boat that carried them across the rolling waves was driven by Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Ian Gabriel.

"Cora, the 3-year-old, I'll never forget this, she was in front of me, facing me, and she had a ball," Gabriel said. "You could have swore she was on a ride at Disneyland. She was laughing and smiling the whole time."

For the rescuers, what it all cost is not an issue.

"For the people out there who's trying to say like, 'How much did this cost the government?' -- How do you put a price on a child's life? How do you do that? You shouldn't," Gabriel said.

The rescuers also said that they do the same kind of thing in training exercises using the same resources, but when they are just training they don't come back with four lives saved.

  • John Blackstone
    John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.