Risky rescue on jetty

By Jessica Cejnar, The Triplicate January 02, 2013 05:51 pm

Officers on jet skis save man washed onto the rocks

Rescuers battled powerful waves and a high tide to get to a Santa Cruz-area man who was swept off Crescent City’s north jetty on Saturday.

Responders found the man, whose name has been withheld, clinging to the rocks on the east side of the jetty at about 1:30 p.m., said Sgt. Erik Apperson of the Crescent City Police Department. The man was able to hang onto the rocks until he was rescued, but the waves were so heavy they were crashing into the jetty from the west on top of him.

Officers from the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office plucked the man from the water using jet skis. He was transported to Sutter Coast Hospital with minor injuries, Apperson said.

According to Del Norte County Search and Rescue volunteer Peggy Thomas, the man had ventured onto the jetty to take pictures when he was swept off his feet. Initially he was able to climb onto the rocks to look for his camera, but was swept off a second time, she said.

The man was a third of the way out on the mile-long jetty, Thomas said. Because of the water washing over the jetty, search and rescue personnel couldn’t attempt a rescue by venturing out on the jetty themselves.

“The ocean wasn’t as rough as it could have been, but because of the tide, water was washing over the jetty,” she said. “Anybody out there in those conditions would have gotten washed off.”

Crescent City police find people on the jetty many times each year despite signs warning them of the dangerous conditions, Apperson said. Officers get calls of people in distress out on the jetty once or twice a month. Some people have died after being swept off it, he said.

Responding to someone in distress on the jetty also puts emergency personnel in danger, Apperson said.

“They’re dealing with the very same conditions that put that person in peril to begin with,” he said. “It just surprises me that despite our best public efforts, despite coverage in the Triplicate, warnings people have received and even large red and white signs that say ‘Do not walk on structure may cause death,’ people still seem to walk out there.”

Several agencies responded to the incident including the Sheriff’s Office and Search and Rescue. The local detachment of the U.S. Coast Guard was also called, Apperson said. 

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