Coast Guard rescues man from Smith River after rafting accident

MCKINLEYVILLE, Calif. – U.S. Coast Guard Group Humboldt Bay was notified of three people in distress on the Smith River east of Crescent City, Calif., on Monday afternoon.

The Coast Guard launched an MH-65C Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Humboldt Bay at 2:25 p.m., after receiving a phone call from a California Fish and Game Warden who saw the raft overturn while navigating South Fork Falls. The three men were fishing for steelhead on the river.

The helicopter arrived in the area and made radio contact with Del Norte County Sherriff search and rescue personnel who were on scene. Two of three rafters had made it safely to the south shore while one person was stranded across the river on the north shore.

Following an attempt by the search and rescue team to maneuver a rescue raft across the river to the fisherman, the helicopter was brought overhead to affect the rescue. The helicopter lowered a Coast Guard rescue swimmer down to the rafter. The rescue swimmer and the survivor were transported to the south bank using the helicopter’s rescue hoist.

The rescue swimmer was hoisted back into the helicopter and the aircraft returned to Air Station Humboldt Bay.

The Coast Guard recommends that all boaters exercise extreme diligence while on the water and that all boaters wear life jackets while on board vessels.

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