Monday, February 1, 2010

SUP used for water rescue...

Over the weekend I had the good fortune of being in the right place at the right time to help rescue one man from Lake Padden when his canoe tipped over. Unfortunately, I was not able to find his partner who was found the next day. Here is the Bellingham Herald newspaper account...

Body of man believed to be missing boater recovered from Lake Padden


Divers have recovered the body of a man believed to have drowned in Lake Padden after the canoe he was in overturned Friday afternoon, Jan. 29.

The divers found the man and pulled his body from the water at about 2:40 p.m. Saturday.

Bellingham police believe the body belongs to Clay J. Weden, 28, but said official identification will be done by the Whatcom County Medical Examiner's Office.

Weden was in the canoe with Cole B. Smith, 28, when it overturned at about 1 p.m. Friday, said Mark Young, Bellingham police spokesman.

Smith survived but was unsure how the capsizing occurred, said Lt. Bill Slodysko.

People on the lake's shore heard the men yelling for help and called 911. The first officer to arrive, Ty Elmendorf, saw a friend, Beau Whitehead, who's a Bellingham firefighter but was off-duty.

Whitehead had two stand-up paddle boats and provided one to Elmendorf and used the other to paddle out to Smith, who was trying to swim for shore.

Whitehead rescued Smith and took him to Elmendorf, who brought him to shore with the help of Officer Don Almer, Young said.

Whitehead then turned back to get to Weden, but could not find him.

Whitehead reached the canoe and found two lifejackets on board.

Divers with Whatcom County Search and Rescue and crews from South Whatcom Fire Authority searched the lake until 6 p.m. Friday but had to suspend their search due to darkness.

At 9 a.m. Saturday, 26 people from Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan counties began searching for Weden, said Whatcom County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Jilk.

The area where they believed Weden may have been was broken into a grid, and divers methodically combed through that area, Jilk said.

They battled poor visibility - at times they couldn't see beyond a foot or two in front of them - but eventually located Weden.

"Literally they're just going by feel," Jilk said. "They're doing it by the feel of what's in front of them."