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Marine Board Staff Member Goes Above and Beyond to Rescue Three Boaters
For Immediate Release -10/14/11
Pictured (left to right): Marine Board Chair, George Tinker (Coos Bay), Marine Board Law Enforcement Training Coordinator Dale Flowers, and Marine Board Director Scott Brewen. 
 
The Oregon State Marine Board recognized the life-saving efforts of many marine deputies statewide at their annual post-season Law Enforcement Conference, held on Monday, September 26 in Eugene.  But toward the end of the evening, after all of the recognition awards were given out, Boating Safety Manager Marty Law introduced Jackson County Marine Deputy Jason Denton to step up to the podium.  He would deliver a heart-felt recounting of events that propelled Dale Flowers, the Marine Board’s law enforcement training coordinator, into action this summer.
           
It was August 11, 2011 during the third day of the Marine Board’s drift boat training, when Deputy Denton, who was one of the drift boat instructors, saw three young kids rafting on the Rogue River downstream from Dodge Bridge.  As the kids neared the Dodge Bridge, they were unable to maneuver their inflatable boat and Deputy Denton watched them get stuck on the rocks above an island.  The Rogue was flowing at nearly 3400 cubic feet per second into the jagged rocks and boulders near the bridge, forming two, fast-moving channels.  Deputy Denton immediately contacted dispatch for help, asking that the patrol boat be launched nearby.  At the same time, Dale Flowers was in another drift boat behind Denton and witnessed the events unfolding.  Flowers quickly maneuvered his drift boat to the right riverbank to make contact with the kids.  By this time, Lt. Pat Rowland had arrived on the bridge and lowered a throw bag to Flowers.  Flowers was able to get the throw bag to one of the kids and instructed her how to properly tie off their raft by giving clear and precise directions from the riverbank, over the raging noise of the river and the bridge.  Deputy Denton soon arrived in a patrol boat maneuvering near Flowers, who boarded the boat. Denton said he didn’t think he could get the boat up river left, closer to the kids.  Denton decided that the best option would be to drop Flowers off on the island with 2 PFDs, so Flowers could make his way to the stranded raft and secure the PFDs on the kids.  Flowers climbed over large boulders and through waist-high water to finally reach the raft.  Once Flowers reached the kids and the PFDs were properly secured, Flowers continued to give calm and clear directions on every step he was going to take to get them safely into the patrol boat. 
           
Flowers brought a female out of the raft first, but she was unable to stand in the current on the jagged rocks.  Flowers picked her up and carried her over his shoulder to the patrol boat himself.  He then carried the other two kids “fireman style” as well, so none of them would be injured or lose their footing in the fast moving current.  All three kids were safely boarded onto the patrol boat and Denton transported them to the boat ramp where emergency personnel were waiting.  Deputy Denton returned to the island to find Flowers back in the water, securing all of the kids’ personal belongings from the raft.  The raft was also recovered, but deflated.
           
Flowers, without hesitation, jumped into action and quickly assessed what was unfolding around him, making quick decisions under mounting pressure.  His actions were especially critical when you take into consideration the river flow, water temperature, noise, and three panicked kids in a punctured raft. 
           
“Flowers did everything right,” Denton said in a sincere tone. “I was pretty proud that day.”  Looking at Flowers in the banquet hall, Denton added, “You can work with me anytime.”
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