2010-05-13 / News

Happy ending to Dutch Harbor rescue

By Iain Wilson

In an event that received statewide attention, several members of the community rescued two young boaters from the chilly waters off of Dutch Island last week.

At approximately 4:30 p.m. on May 5, the Jamestown Police Dept. received a phone call from a woman on Ft. Getty who reported hearing screams coming from the water.

Jamestown Fire and Rescue rushed to Dutch Harbor Boat Yard. Emergency personnel were assessing the situation when boat yard owner Allison Eichler saw the commotion.

Eichler immediately urged the group to take the boat yard launch, “Comet,” to rescue two collegeage boaters who were clinging to a navigation buoy about 200 yards off of Dutch Island.

“I noticed they needed a boat to go out in the water, so I said, ‘Quick, please go, hop in our boat!’” Eichler said.

Dave Whitlock, who has worked at Dutch Harbor for three years, captained the launch, with a crew of two Jamestown rescue workers. Whitlock navigated the vessel to close range with directions from a surfer in the water. The firefighters then used a life ring to pull the victims to safety.

Whitlock said it took approximately 10 minutes for the crew to reach the two youths in distress, but, “When it’s 50-degree water, you never know how long you have.”

According to Eichler, the two victims were taken to Newport Hospital and treated for mild hypothermia.

Eichler said it was a team effort that helped avoid disaster that day. “It took a lot of people to save those lives, and an incredible amount of luck for these young people,” she said.

The two teenagers were apparently canoeing in the waters off of Dutch Island when the vessel capsized when it was hit by a wave. Neither teen was wearing a life jacket.

Whitlock brushed away talk of heroism, saying, “Anyone in that situation would have gotten on a boat and gone out to save those kids.”

The names of the adolescents were not released.

With crisis averted, Eichler praised the work of community members, saying, “The firefighter response, the woman on Ft. Getty, Dutch Harbor’s launch and Dave Whitlock’s driving showed that a community can pull together and have a happy ending.”

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