A 74-year-old Sequim resident, Elden Ross, and his 6-year-old grandson were rescued from Dungeness Bay mid-Saturday, Aug. 8, after their kayak capsized.
The rescue effort marks the second kayak-related emergency in Dungeness Bay within the past four months, according to Sgt. Lyman Moores, search and rescue coordinator for Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.
Although Ross was able to assist his grandson get back into the one-person kayak, he himself was unable to get back into the kayak and thus spent about 90 minutes in the water before a rescue swimmer was lowered down to hoist him into a helicopter.
Jenny Smith, who was visiting her parents from Renton, immediately paddled into the bay and helped her son safely paddle back to shore as soon as she and her mother returned home from town and noticed only one person inside the kayak. But, unable to locate her father, Smith dialed 9-1-1.
In response, officials with Clallam County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue coordinated efforts to locate Ross. The Washington State Emergency Management Division in Camp Murray was notified to request Coast Guard marine patrol, as well as Coast Guard Air Support in order to locate the missing kayaker. The Sheriff’s Marine Patrol likewise had been activated and was responding.
Utilizing GPS coordinates and cell phone communication from Jamestown Beach, Moores was able to provide the U.S. Coast Guard Marine boat with Ross’ last known location, but shallow waters limited search capabilities by boat. Therefore, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter was used to find the kayaker by about 1:15 p.m.
Upon rescue, Ross was transported to Olympic Medical Center to be treated for hypothermia. He spent the night in intensive care, but was released the following day.
Ross and his grandson were both wearing lifejackets, which are considered to be “key” factors in their being able to survive, Moores said.
Clallam County Search and Rescue personnel would like to remind everyone to be prepared for the worst when participating in outdoor activities. Outdoor enthusiasts should remember to be aware of their surroundings and take proper precautions to ensure they have a safe outdoor experience.
Clallam County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue is a volunteer division of the sheriff’s department that responds to emergency urban or wilderness search and rescue calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Search and Rescue members are dedicated individuals who train in many areas of rescue work including search, radio communication, navigation, tracking, emergency medicine, technical rescue and water rescue.