One of the rescuers who helped get four crew members out of the Golden Ray, the cargo ship that capsized and caught fire off the coast of Georgia on Sunday, described the harrowing attempt to free the trapped men.
Sean Cogan, a rope access supervisor for Elevated Safety, a company that trains and helps people rappel on ropes, was appointed the rescue team leader for salvage company Defiant Marine, he told ABC News.
Cogan, who typically helps engineers get to hard-to-access places like bridges for inspection, was part of the team that first heard tapping noises coming from the Golden Ray as they rappelled over the side of the ship.
He knew “the clock was ticking” for the men as soon as he got to St. Simons Sound, off the coast of Brunswick, Georgia, he said.
The first priority was to drill a small hole big enough to shake the men’s hands, hand them bottles of water, flashlights and a device to communicate on and assure them that help was on the way, Cogan said.
It was about 120 degrees where rescue teams were working outside the ship and even hotter inside, Coast Guard Capt. John Reed told reporters on Monday.
Once teams drilled the first half-inch hole to get an air monitor and airflow into the ship, Cogan could feel the hot air spilling from inside, he said, adding that it felt like they were drilling into a thermal oven.