Local teen missing off coast of Honduras is rescued

Family photo of Amber Burkett
Family photo of Amber Burkett

Bridge City, La. - After three days of living a nightmare, a Bridge City mom finally got the news she had been praying for: her 16-year-old daughter, Amber Burkett, was found alive Wednesday around 10:00 a.m.

Burkett and eight other people were stranded off a Honduran island, 55 miles from where they were supposed to return Saturday night.

"If she was here right now, I probably wouldn't let go of her," said Amber's grandfather, Woody McGehee.

Her family had been working with the U.S. Coast Guard and Honduran search and rescue teams. Amber's family had started to believe she may not ever come home.

"If things turn out for the worst, she's better off. She'd be with the Lord. She has a baby there," McGehee said early Wednesday morning.

Amber lost her child during pregnancy one year ago, and had gone on vacation to Honduras to help handle her grievances. Her mother had been preparing to grieve for Amber.

"Maybe I'll have a little bit more of an understanding when she's in pain. So I guess God works in mysterious ways to show us," said Jackie Capehart, Amber's mother.

Still grasping to wisps of hope, a phone call from the US embassy in Honduras came just in time. The U.S. Coast Guard found all nine passengers alive.  Stuck with a broken boat, they were waving to the helicopter for help.

"It's been a long three days so it's just the best gift God could have given me," said Capehart.

As news spread, family members flooded inside and ran to hold Amber's mother tight with relief. But the family couldn't rest until they heard Amber's voice and knew that she was ok. They say her fair skin is prone to dangerous sunburns, and they worried she may not have had any water to drink.

From the hospital in Honduras came another phone call of relief, from Amber herself.

Amber's mother plans to fly down to Honduras on Thursday. Medics tell her family that Amber is slightly sunburned and dehydrated, and they plan to keep her in the hospital for 24 hours before she can fly back home to Bridge City.