Kentucky Man Helps Rescue Refugees at Sea

By: Tamara Evans Email
By: Tamara Evans Email

John Mullins will tell you that he has bad eyesight, and on a recent cruise never wore his glasses until he sat down for dinner on Saturday night.

"If it hadn't been for that I'd never seen it! Just a flash in the horizon almost. My first thoughts were buoy. I'm thinking... 'What's a buoy doing out this far?,'" says John Mullins.

But it wasn't a buoy Mullins spotted. It was seven Cuban refugees stranded on a raft.

The only words they could say were 'water' and 'Miami'. While Carnival Cruise Ship Valor waited for the U.S. Coast Guard to arrive, passengers tried to help.

"Everybody was throwing food, water, and soft drinks," says Mullins.

Joey Rice, the grandson of Mullins, says it was his grandfather that really saved these men.

"It's awesome. If it weren't for him they may still be out floating around," says Rice.

As for the man that never wears his glasses, he says it's a good thing he put them on.

"I just feel like I was at the right place at the right time," says Mullins.

Mullins said he was told the rescued men had been at sea for nine days before they were found. The U.S. Coast Guard has since detained them and are now trying to figure out where to send them next.

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  • by Joey Location: Lex on Jun 19, 2008 at 04:14 AM
    Send them to Lexington and put them in Kathy Stein's front yard. She has a soft spot for illegals.
  • by Cindy Location: Danvillle, KY on Jun 18, 2008 at 07:40 PM
    My son was also on this cruise and he witnessed the entire ordeal. Two ships actually spotted the raft and The Valor was the one that ended up staying with it until Coast Guard could arrive. While many were throwing bottles of water over, no one threw food or soft drinks. They were also repeatedly told to not throw these items over, as it is against environmental regulations. The immigrants were shouting telephone numbers of relatives in Miami to someone on the ship. They telephoned the relatives and learned that they had no clue the immigrants were coming. Luckily, the Carnival crew provided large bottles of water and food as they were instructed to do so by Coast Guard. Many people aboard the ship were disappointed that the Cubans could not board the ship, but we must remember that these are illegal immigrants. The Valor and Coast Guard did the correct thing by not allowing them to board, as heartbreaking as it may have been. We wish these men and woman the best after this ordeal.


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