Colonie woman witnesses rescue of refugees at sea

COLONIE, N.Y. — A local eyewitness to an ocean rescue shares her account of what happened when desperate Cuban refugees flagged down the cruise ship she was a passenger on.

Patty Miller of Colonie says she was enjoying a cruise with her daughter and other female family members when their vacation turned into a rescue effort – saving 24 lives.

The mother and daughter say they were having lunch with other family members when the daughter, Veronica, noticed a tiny speck on the waves.

That speck turned out to be a wooden vessel filled with refugees.

The cruise ship, named the Norwegian Pearl, turned around and that’s when Patty and Veronica and other passengers pulled out their cell phones and began capturing the rescue that was unfolding before them.

Patty says she later learned that the engine on the refugees’ boat had died 3 days prior, and the 24 refugees onboard the tiny wooden boat had been adrift since then.

Had they not been spotted, it’s possible they would not have survived.

Without reaching U.S. soil, the refugees were almost immediately turned over to the Coast Guard and returned to Cuba.

In the end, Patty said the refugees were a reminder to her and her fellow passengers of just how lucky many of us have it in the United States.

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