Air Station Humboldt Bay Responds to Four People in the Water

McKinleyville, Calif. – At 1:40 p.m. Saturday, US Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay received a report of four people in the water at the mouth of the Klamath River south of Crescent City, Calif.

Allegedly, the four men were fishing on a 16-foot flat-bottom jet-drive boat, which capsized after reaching 15-foot breaking surf at the mouth of the Klamath River. None of the members onboard the boat were reported to be wearing lifejackets

At 2 p.m., an HH-65 helicopter, from Air Station Humboldt Bay, was launched and arrived on scene at 2:23 p.m. As the HH-65 transited to the area, two of the people in the water were rescued by a Yurok Tribal Rescue boat. The Coast Guard helicopter arrived at the mouth of the Klamath River and commenced a search for the remaining two boaters.

Assisting in the helicopter during the search was the Yurok Tribal boat, a Del Norte County Sherriff vessel, and a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel which had deployed from Crescent City.

The HH-65 spotted a person in the surf who had washed up onto the shore. The person appeared unresponsive and several beachgoers had gathered near the man and signaled to the orbiting helicopter. The helo deployed a rescue swimmer to the beach to assess the condition of the man and confirm that the other persons on the beach were not from the overturned boat. With help from the bystanders, the boater, unresponsive to First Aid, was later transferred to Del Norte County Sheriff’s Coroners Office.

After the rescue swimmer had analyzed the situation on the shore, the HH-65 returned to the beach, recovered the rescue swimmer, and then began a search for the last missing boater.

At 3:14 p.m., the HH-65 located the fourth person from the fishing vessel, two miles offshore. The aircraft immediately deployed the rescue swimmer to the water and backed away as the swimmer approached the survivor. The man was extremely hypothermic after being in approximately 55 degree water for almost 1.5 hours. Also, the person was equipped with a prosthetic leg which made swimming and staying afloat difficult.

The rescue swimmer gained positive control of the survivor and swam him to the helicopter as the rescue basket was deployed. The man was placed into the basket and hoisted aboard the aircraft which then recovered the rescue swimmer and proceeded to Crescent City Airport.

The survivor was transferred to a waiting ambulance at the airport and then transported to Mercy Hospital. The helicopter refueled at Crescent City and returned to Air Station Humboldt Bay.

The two boaters rescued by the Yurok Tribal Rescue boat were also transferred to Mercy Hospital by ambulance.

The Coast Guard recommends the use of lifejackets when onboard any vessel and recommends all vessels file a float plan before getting underway. California’s coastline is known for heavy surf and the Coast Guard recommends all vessels check weather reports before getting underway to monitor surf conditions.

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