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Coast Guard rescues 3 people after high winds push pink flamingo raft away from shore

KODIAK, Alaska. / CNN — Three friends, two dogs and one giant inflatable flamingo were rescued after getting swept out into an Alaska bay on Saturday, officials said.

Coast Guard crews conducted the rescue mission when a birthday celebration at White Sands beach in Kodiak went wrong.

It was a birthday Hollie Spence said she’ll never forget — and she is thankful to be alive.

Spence, along with her roommate, Lepa Sega, and Lepa’s brother, Nation, climbed onto a 10-foot inflatable pink flamingo float with their two dogs in a shallow area of the beach.

Spence, who was celebrating her 30th birthday, said it was a nice, sunny day and the sky was clear, but it was windy. The group had previously floated on the giant flamingo raft last year and didn’t have any issues, she said.

“If we get too far out, we notice right away and pull it back,” she said.

The group brought clothes, blankets, snacks and non-alcoholic drinks to enjoy an afternoon of relaxing on the float that was like an inflatable couch, Spence said. They didn’t bring life jackets or paddles, she added.

The wind along with a strong current proved to be too much for the friends. They found themselves out of the shallow waters and into Monashka Bay.

“It was a little windy but I never thought in a million years we would be drug out so fast and so far,” she said.

Within an hour, the group came to a stop on top of some offshore rocks on the other side of the bay. Alaska State Troopers and US Coast Guard were called in to rescue them but conditions were deemed too treacherous for the boats, so a helicopter hoist was used to lift the stranded group to safety, Coast Guard officials said in a Facebook post.

“It was a complete freak accident and we had to be rescued,” Spence said. “It was the scariest day of my life. I don’t think I’ll ever do something like this again.”

Spence said they were all checked by paramedics waiting for them at the Coast Guard station and no one had injuries. She added that they had some scrapes from the rocks but no injuries that required going to the hospital.

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