Humboldt Bay Coast Guard Responds to Rafting Accident on Smith River

McKinleyville, Calif. – Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay received a report of three people in the water on the Smith River, east of Crescent City, Calif. At approximately 3 p.m. today.

A good samaritan, in their residence overlooking the river, immediately called 911 after spotting a lone person floating downstream in a raft yelling for help.

Emergency dispatchers notified the Del Norte County Sherriff who deployed their search and rescue unit and reported the incident to the U.S. Coast Guard.

At 3:25 p.m. an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Humboldt Bay was launched to assist the sheriff’s department.

The occupant of the raft reached the shore on the south bank of the river, and told rescuers that there were two more men upstream of where he had come ashore.

The Coast Guard helicopter arrived on scene at 4 p.m. and began searching upstream of the raft.

The helicopter crew sighted the first remaining survivor approximately three miles north of the town of Gasquet, Calif. and relayed the location of the survivor to the sheriff’s team.

The aircraft continued up the river where the crew spotted the second person, a mile upstream of the first, and passed the second position to the sheriff.

The sheriff’s department had deployed two jet skis into the river to conduct the search and rescue operation.

Due to an area of dangerous rapids, it was determined that the jet skis could not reach the survivors and the Coast Guard helicopter prepared to rescue the two men.

The helicopter was positioned over the survivor farthest upstream and a rescue swimmer was lowered to the rocky river bank.

The rescue swimmer placed a rescue strap around the survivor and they were hoisted into the helicopter.

The aircraft then flew downstream to the remaining rafter and lowered the rescue swimmer to the final survivor.

The rafter and rescue swimmer were hoisted into the aircraft and both survivors were transferred to emergency medical services at Gasquet Airport.

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