Anglers pulled from surf after boat capsizes

February 01, 2007 12:00 am

By Scott Graves

Wescom News Service

BROOKINGS — For the second time in four days, a small recreation fishing boat capsized in the surf off Brookings' Sporthaven Beach Wednesday afternoon.

This time, two anglers on a 12-foot aluminum motorboat were dumped into the icy water at about 3:40 p.m. about 80 feet from shore near the south jetty.

As shorebreak pushed the struggling men and the boat toward land, two bystanders waded into the water and pulled the men to the sand. One of the anglers, tentatively identified at the scene as Brian Wilby, was conscious and talking. The other angler, Bill Gannon, was not.

A paramedic administering CPR to Gannon was later heard to say the man had a faint pulse. Gannon was transported to Sutter Coast Hospital, where, at 5:15 p.m., he was listed in serious condition and had been admitted to the intensive care unit.

No more information about the two men was available as of Wednesday evening.

According to Brookings resident Betty Mears, who witnessed the capsizing, the two anglers had been cruising in the boat back and forth parallel to shore just beyond the breaking waves. As the boat approached the south jetty, it turned perpendicular to oncoming waves, with the bow pointed shoreward. A breaking wave flipped the boat, sending both men into the water.

As the two anglers struggled in the surf, a man known only as Mark, grabbed a large piece of driftwood and ran down the beach and out into the water. One of the struggling anglers grabbed the wood and held tight until Mark and others could drag him ashore.

Harbor resident Cody Hanna followed behind Mark, wading into the water to help the angler later identified as Gannon. Several other people help Hanna pull the man ashore.

Paramedics arrived at the scene a few minutes later and began treating the two fisherman. Mark and Hanna were uninjured and declined treatment.

Wednesday's capsizing follows a similar one that happened Sunday at Sporthaven Beach.

In that incident recreational fishermen Mark Batenhorst, of Central Point, and Allan Cartwright, of Medford, were tossed into the ocean when a wave flipped their small aluminum boat about 40 feet from shore. The men had been attempting to retrieve crab pots.

Both men were able to reach the shore, although Cartwright was helped by a local surfer who had quickly donned his wetsuit and came to their aid.

On Wednesday, Masterchief John Dunn of the U.S. Coast Guard Chetco River Station expressed his dismay at having not one, but two boats capsize at the same beach within four days.

"We really have to do something to make people more aware of how dangerous these waters can be – especially here, this winter," Dunn said. "People just don't know how dangerous it is sometimes."

Dunn surmised that non-local fishermen who've been to Brookings before may not realize that conditions at their favorite ocean fishing spot has changed dramatically since their last visit.