High winds and water cold enough to kill were no match for a Coast Guardsman who swam out into high seas to answer a distress call.
During the wee hours of Tuesday morning, a Coast Guard helicopter was called to save the crew of a floundering 52-foot commercial shrimp fishing boat.
The vessel had lost power and was taking on water, and the four-person crew had abandoned ship; they were bobbing aboard a life raft in 5-foot waves off the Oregon coast when the helicopter arrived.
The copter lowered Petty Officer 2nd Class Darren Harrity into the 57-degree water. Normally, he would have attached a harness to each of the castaways to lift them back to the helicopter, but the hoist broke – the chopper couldn’t pick up any of the survivors.
So the petty officer had to go with Plan-B, swimming each survivor to shore 250 yards away. one at a time. In total, he swam more than a mile back and forth. The helicopter stayed overhead, but all its crew could do was watch as Petty Officer Harrity made those four trips between life raft and shore until he got all the fishermen to safety.
Harrity told KOIN News that he talked to each one and calmed them down before beginning his four trips to shore. Paramedics were waiting on the beach and all four survivors are doing well.
(WATCH the video and READ more at KOIN News) – Photo: U.S. Coast Guard
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