NORTH BEND, Ore. (KPTV) — A Coast Guard petty officer rescued four people after their fishing boat ran aground on the southern Oregon coast by swimming each one individually to safety early Tuesday morning, KPTV in Portland reported.
FOX 12 spoke with Petty Officer 2nd Class Darren Harrity, 27, by Skype and got his take on one incredible early morning rescue.
The rescue began with a call to save the four man crew of a 52-foot fishing boat that hit the rocks near Cape Blanco, Ore. The men had jumped into a life raft, but had no way to get to shore.
Because of heavy winds and some nearby cliffs, the Coast Guard air crew couldn’t hoist the men up. Instead, they decided to hoist Harrity down.
“I think the pilot said, ‘Harrity, you’re going to be doing a lot of swimming tonight’ … I think is what he said.”
Meaning Harrity would have to personally swim each of the four men from the life boat to the beach about 250 yards away. He’d have to do that four separate times.
“So, yeah, the first guy hopped in the water and he helped me kick a little bit and, yeah, we made it, all four of them,” said Harrity.
Harrity rescued all four men without using a flotation device.
“It was just me and my muscles and that’s it,” laughed Harrity.
He did have some help, something most people avoid — rip currents.
“It was actually a nice rip there near the cliff and it was basically just a circle and yeah it helped out quite a bit.”
In the end, it was mission accomplished with Harrity swimming the equivalent of a mile in cold, dangerous conditions.
“It felt pretty good until the helicopter left and I had to hitch a ride back,” Harrity said.
It was too dangerous to give Harrity a ride back with the other four men in the helicopter.