Off-duty Coast Guard civilian rescues man near Humboldt Bay north jetty

The Humboldt Bay entrance channel is marked by north and south jetties. (U.S. Coast Guard file photo by Chief Petty Officer Brandyn Hill)

The Humboldt Bay entrance channel is marked by north and south jetties. (U.S. Coast Guard file photo by Chief Petty Officer Brandyn Hill)

MCKINLEYVILLE, Calif. — An off-duty Coast Guard civilian employee rescued a man near the Humboldt Bay north jetty Thursday, after seeing a man treading water in the high surf and strong current.

A bystander called Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay watchstanders via 911 at approximately 8 a.m., reporting a surfer had lost his board near the Humboldt Bay north jetty and appeared to be in distress due to the strong current.

A Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew and a Coast Guard Station Humboldt Bay 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crew launched to the scene.

A California Department of Fish and Wildlife marine unit and a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office marine unit also responded.

Prior to the rescue units arriving on scene, Steven Bluntzer, a Sector Humboldt Bay civilian search and rescue controller and also a surfer, was on scene and noticed the distressed surfer.

Bluntzer instructed a bystander to call 911, then entered the water on his own surfboard to assist the surfer in distress.

Bluntzer pulled the distressed surfer onto his own surfboard amid high surf and strong current. The surfer reported he had been fighting the current and treading water for approximately 45 minutes after losing his surfboard.

All rescue boats then arrived on scene and transferred both individuals to shore.

“I just did what any Coastie would do in that situation,” said Bluntzer.

The Coast Guard urges the public to remain vigilant during changing and challenging ocean conditions and remain off rocks, jetties and outcroppings during periods of high surf.

When heading out on the water, always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return and never swim alone.

Check local weather conditions at http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/ before participating in ocean or shore activities.

The Coast Guard continues operations authorized by law that provide for national security or that protect life and property during partial government shutdowns; however, there are some impacts to our day-to-day operations. Coast Guard uniformed and Civilian essential personnel will continue to perform their duties during a partial government shutdown and will provide essential services such as search and rescue, port and homeland safety and security, law enforcement and environmental response.

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