0719 rescue

Medical personnel from Anacortes Fire Department evaluate survivors of a capsized vessel which occurred near Guemes Island late July 16. The crew of three were rescued after a Guemes Island resident reported hearing calls for help coming from the water off North Beach. The three said they were pulling crab pots when their boat capsized. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Clark / U.S. Coast Guard District 13)

The Coast Guard, assisted by Guemes Island Fire and other local agencies, rescued three people from the water early July 17 after their 12-foot boat capsized about a half of a mile northwest of Guemes Island.

A resident of the island called 911 shortly after 10 p.m. July 16 to report hearing multiple voices shouting from offshore, the Coast Guard reported. He said he saw no boats or lights in the water, but could hear male and female voices shouting — "Where are you?" and "Don't give up, I'm right here" — from the water in the direction of Vendovi Island.  

A Coast Guard response boat from Bellingham and a Coast Guard helicopter from Port Angeles launched a search; other agencies responding included Guemes Island Fire Department and Skagit County Sheriff. The crew of the response boat found the crew of three ⁠— two men and one woman ⁠— about two hours later off North Beach, clinging to their capsized boat. The three said they were pulling crab pots when their boat capsized. They were not wearing life jackets.

The Coast Guard response boat took the three to Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes where emergency medical services personnel were waiting to conduct medical evaluations and transport them to the hospital for treatment of hypothermia. 

"I am extremely proud of my crew and their efforts during last night's rescue," Chief Warrant Officer Justin Uyttewaal said in a report issued by the Coast Guard. Uyttewaal is commanding officer at Coast Guard Station Bellingham.

"Day or night, they are ready to respond to calls for help and to serve our coastal communities." Uyttewaal said the resident's call to 911 "was key to a quick and successful recovery."

The most recent studies indicate 86% of drowning victims in 2019 were not wearing life jackets, and most drowning victims are reportedly good swimmers, the Coast Guard reported. The Coast Guard encourages mariners to wear life jackets at all times while on the water.

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