Sequim man and coworkers help save canoers near Port Townsend

‘I’ve never done anything like this. It just had to be done.’

Several hours before two Chimacum residents went missing in the evening of Friday, Oct. 9, in Kilisut Harbor, three construction workers, including a Sequim man, helped save a father and daughter in nearby waters.

Lance Lestage of Sequim said he and his coworkers with G Little Construction were on Marrowstone Island installing a roof along Griffith Point Road at about 7:45 a.m. when they saw two people rowing a canoe between Indian Island and Nordland.

He said they had been watching them row for a while and they appeared to be crabbing.

“The second we saw them flip over, we ran to the beach,” Lestage said.

His coworker Justin Taylor found shovels and the pair began paddling an 8-foot-skiff on the shoreline while their foreman Rod Barrow called 9-1-1.

The pair battled the current and it took them about 20 minutes to reach the unnamed father and daughter from Bellevue staying in a friend’s home.

East Jefferson Fire and Rescue representatives confirmed the pair were wearing life jackets but that being in the cold water could have led the pair to develop hypothermia.

Lestage said the father and daughter were also wearing rubber boots and likely couldn’t swim very far. They were “just trying to cling to the boat,” he said.

The father and daughter were given a medical evaluation and found with no injuries so they were brought back to their home, fire officials said.

Naval Magazine Indian Island Engine 91 arrived on scene first, followed by a medic unit from East Jefferson Fire and Rescue.

“I’ve never done anything like this,” Lestage said of the effort.

“It just had to be done. We didn’t think of our own safety. We knew they weren’t going to last in that water.

“If we hadn’t seen them, it might not have been good. If we had been at another job a couple of doors down, (we) might not have seen them.”

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