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Douglas County Marine Patrol Deputies Recognized for Life Saving Efforts
For Immediate Release- 10/5/2011
Marine Board Chair, George Tinker (Coos Bay), Deputy Brian Melvin, Cadet Larissa Pierce, Deputy Pete Wood, Deputy Don Martin, and Marine Board Director, Scott BrewenThe Oregon State Marine Board recognized the life-saving efforts of four individuals from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol, at their annual post-season Law Enforcement Conference, held on Monday, September 26 in Eugene.  Deputies Don Martin, Pete Wood, Brian Melvin and Cadet Larissa Pierce teamed up for an amazing rescue on the North Umpqua River.
It was July 31, 2011 and the members of the marine patrol unit were launching the patrol boat along the banks of the North Umpqua River near Burkart Rapids.  The marine patrol deputies were trying to determine how to remove a capsized drift boat that had been stuck in the middle of the rapids and was creating a navigation hazard to other boaters.  Deputy Melvin was standing on the bank, approximately 75 feet from the rapids talking with the owner of the drift boat.  Deputies Wood, Martin and Cadet Pierce were located at a private boat ramp nearby.  A family of five came floating down the river on a big float platform. The platform was not very maneuverable and was pulled into the same channel where the drift boat was pinned.  Because of the river hydrology, the platform overturned throwing all five occupants into the water.  Fortunately, everyone was wearing a life jacket.  Deputy Melvin watched as four of the family members made it out of the rapids.  Then Melvin heard frantic screams for a boy.  Deputy Wood, Martin and Cadet Pierce jumped into the patrol boat and navigated the boat into the rapids.  Melvin noticed a line coming off the bow of the drift boat and two small hands pulling at the rope but could not see the child’s head.  Melvin yelled to Deputy Wood that the child was stuck at the bow of the drift boat.  Wood skillfully maneuvered the boat to a location that allowed Deputy Martin and Cadet Pierce to attempt a rescue.  Cadet Pierce pulled on the child’s life jacket but the vest broke free of the child.  Deputy Martin and Pierce leaned over, nearly entering the turbulent water themselves, head first.  The child was pinned between a rock and the drift boat.  After what seemed like an eternity to everyone witnessing the event, Deputy Martin was able to pull the boy into the boat and Cadet Pierce started administering first aid.  Deputy Wood was able to carefully maneuver the boat and get everyone back to shore.  Miraculously, the boy, age 6, only suffered minor injuries. 
“The care, skill and determination demonstrated by Deputies Don Martin, Pete Wood, Brian Melvin, and Larissa Pierce went beyond the call of duty,” said Marty Law, Boating Safety Manager for the Marine Board.  “Because of their rapid response and putting their own lives on the line, this boy is alive today.  Everyone is so grateful for what these officers did.”