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Sailing family back in US with ailing baby

Eric and Charlotte Kaufman and their daughters, Cora, 3, and ailing Lyra,1, left a US ship in San Diego Wednesday.

US NAVY/REUTERS

Eric and Charlotte Kaufman and their daughters, Cora, 3, and ailing Lyra,1, left a US ship in San Diego Wednesday.

SAN DIEGO — A Navy warship carrying a family whose sailboat broke down in the Pacific Ocean with a sick toddler arrived Wednesday in San Diego.

The arrival came six days after Charlotte and Eric Kaufman used their satellite phone to call for help from 900 miles off the coast of Mexico as their 1-year-old daughter Lyra was vomiting and had diarrhea and a fever.

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California Air National Guard members parachuted to the 36-foot sailboat last Thursday — the same day the distress call was made. The Navy rescue ship arrived on Sunday.

The girl responded to new medication for salmonella-like symptoms. Her 3-year-old sister was also on the boat.

The warship carrying the family docked at Naval Air Station North Island, Navy spokeswoman Lieutenant Lenaya Rotklein said.

The Kaufmans did not wish to speak publicly. They want to tend to their daughter first and get rest, said Charlotte Kaufman’s sister, Sariah English.

The Kaufmans’ decision to sail around the world with Lyra and her sister Cora has struck a chord with parents — angering some who accuse them of endangering their children and drawing admiration from others for having the courage and determination to follow their dream.

‘‘The rescuers have to risk their own lives to help people who do these kinds of stupid things on purpose, and I don’t think that’s right,’’ said Margaret Dilloway, a San Diego novelist who has three children, adding that she thinks the family should have to foot part of the bill for the rescue operation.

English doesn’t question the family’s decision. She says sailing is their passion. It’s what defines them. The family had lived aboard the sailboat, Rebel Heart, for seven years before it broke down.

Rescuers had to sink it because it was taking in water.

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