NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. – A Search and Rescue (SAR) team of five from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island rescued three cold, stranded boaters from a sand bar on the Skagit River on Thursday, November 17, 2016.
The evening SAR Alert crew launched on a routine training flight at 5:10 p.m. and was called shortly after to assist in the rescue of three boaters stranded on the Skagit River approximately 4 miles southeast of the city of Concrete. They were on scene less than 30 minutes later and quickly coordinated with the crew of the rescue boat who were unable to get to the boaters because of the strong river current. With near-pitch-black conditions and as fog began to roll into the valley, the crew quickly lowered the rescue swimmer from the aircraft via the hoist and began to recover the boaters. One by one, the stranded boaters were hoisted from their stuck vessel and all were on board by 6:04 p.m. On the way to the hospital, the SAR Medical Technician evaluated the men and began treatment for hypothermia. The crew landed at Skagit Hospital 15 minutes later and the boaters were delivered to a higher level of care.
Rescue Aircrewman, Petty Officer First Class Justin Wallman said, “The quick response of our crew allowed a fast and safe extraction of the three boaters from a tough location on the river. It is very satisfying to see all of our training pay off in such a tangible way.”
This was the 23rd rescue of 2016 for NAS Whidbey Island SAR, which has also conducted 12 searches and 11 Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions this year. The Navy SAR unit operates three MH-60S helicopters from NAS Whidbey Island as search and rescue platforms for the EA-18G aircraft as well as other squadrons and personnel assigned to the installation. The base also has an agreement to assist Washington State and the surrounding areas with medical evacuations and search and rescue activities if other assets are unavailable.