The rough, cold waters and steep waves off Jordan River are a surfer’s nirvana but that same water can be anything but paradise for small boaters.
Off duty Shirley Fire Chief Donovan Ray and off duty coast guard member Thomas Kerr are being credited with rescuing and saving the life of a crab fisherman who went into the water after his 14-foot aluminum boat was swamped by waves.
The incident happened on Sunday, Nov. 27 at approximately 3:30 p.m. in the large seas off Jordan River.
The Sooke Coast Guard Auxiliary Unit #37 responded to the MAYDAY call and sent out two units, whose engines could be heard along the Strait of Juan de Fuca as they were speeding their way to the scene. On scene as well was an American Coast Guard Helo and an air ambulance. Meanwhile emergency units from Sooke and Shirley were headed to Jordan River along Highway 14.
Surf boarder Kerr had seen the boat overturn from the shore and had headed out first to assist the fisherman. Kerr had the fisherman on his board about one-half a kilometre off shore. Ray got the 911 call and headed out on his stand up paddle board to assist.
“By the time I got to them, Thomas was pretty tired,” said Ray. “I assessed the patient and paddled them both to shore, about half way back Thomas got his energy back.”
They brought the 42-year-old fisherman to shore where he was assessed further by the medical team. He had been in the water about one-half an hour and was hypothermic.
“If we hadn’t intervened there’a 90 per cent chance he would have died,” said Ray. Ray said the fisherman had no lifejacket or Mustang suit.
“It brings back how how important it is to be properly prepared.”
The fisherman refused transport to hospital and returned home.
Two kayakers, who were also attempting to aid in the rescue became imperiled themselves when one of their kayaks overturned in the heavy seas. One kayaker was taken aboard the coast guard auxiliary vessel and brought back to shore. The other kayaker paddled back.