A family rescued at sea with a sick baby is expected to return to San Diego aboard USS Vandegrift Wednesday. NBC 7’s Liberty Zabala talked to the baby’s aunt who shared an update from the family.
The family involved in a rescue-at-sea has posted to social media for the first time since their ordeal.
“We're safe and headed back to San Diego. I'll talk to the press and answer questions after we catch our breath. Some interesting emails!” Eric Kaufman, who was rescued from a sailboat along with his wife and two children, posted to his Twitter account Monday.
The Kaufmans, who were picked up by a San Diego-based Navy ship from the middle of the Pacific Ocean, are aboard USS Vandegrift and heading to San Diego after a daring rescue effort to help their sick infant. They could be back on land late Tuesday or sometime Wednesday.
Eric and Charlotte Kaufman, set sail in an around-the-world journey, with their two young daughters but had to call for help when their 1-year-old became ill and their boat lost steering and communication abilities.
The couple communicate with friends, families and other parents who live on boats with their children through social media.
Family and friends of the Kaufmans will get together Tuesday to discuss the family's return.
On Thursday, 1-year-old Lyra Kaufman fell seriously ill just as the family’s boat, the Rebel Heart, lost its communication and steering abilities.
Thursday night, the California Air National Guard dropped four pararescuemen from a plane into the ocean. Those men climbed aboard the Rebel Heart to stabilize Lyra.
Navy frigate USS Vandegrift reached the boat two days later, and Sunday morning, the Kaufmans boarded the rescue ship.
Neither the Navy nor the California Air National Guard have indicated plans to seek repayment for their rescue efforts.
Meanwhile, a online fundraiser campaign set up by supporters and friends of the Kaufman family has raised nearly $12,500 for the family in just four days, exceeding its original goal of $10,000. As of Tuesday evening, more than 250 contributions to the family had been made through the website.
Charlotte’s sister, Sariah English, spoke with NBC 7 Tuesday and said the family is overwhelmed and very grateful by the support and donations. That money will help the family start anew, now that they’ve lost their boat and home.
“They’re going to be okay. They’ll overcome this,” English said.
When the family returns home to San Diego, English said they will need space and privacy as they slowly transition back into their lives. English said the family will speak to media eventually, but only when they’re ready to tell their story.
English said she was recently able to speak on the phone with Charlotte for a few minutes and her sister said the family, including baby Lyra, is doing okay.
“They’re doing well and they’re very excited to be so close to home,” said English. “Lyra is getting better.”
English said just hearing her sister’s voice over the phone was incredibly comforting after this whole ordeal.
“It makes me feel just a little bit closer to where they are – even though they’re still out in the ocean – I feel closer. Just hearing [my sister’s] voice and hearing her updates, how Lyra is doing and how happy they are on the boat. The girls are very happy and they are loving this time. It’s comforting to hear that,” she added.