November 5, 2013
Two Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife troopers and two Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputies will be honored Friday by the Oregon Peace Officers Association (OPOA) with the "Life Saving Award" for their response in saving a man last December in the dark on a free-floating dock in the fast-rising South Umpqua River. The Oregon Peace Officers Association holds the annual awards banquet to honor the men and women of Oregon's law enforcement community who have distinguished themselves through bravery, heroism, and exemplary service to the public.
The OPOA is holding the organization’s annual Awards Banquet November 8, 2013 at Spirit Mountain Casino and announced the presentation of special awards to several individuals. One of the awards, the "Life Saving Award", may be presented to individuals who, while serving in an official capacity with their law enforcement agency, perform an active, distinct and successful lifesaving of another human being. Recipients of the OPOA "Life Saving Award" including OSP Senior Trooper Jason Stone and Trooper Aaron Baimbridge, and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Don Martin and Deputy Pete Wood.
According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, on December 2, 2012, heavy rains had raised the Umpqua River well above its high water mark. As a result, water was moving very fast and loaded with debris, conditions described as very dangerous for anyone on or near the water.
At approximately 4:30 p.m., a report came in of a man on a small dock with four attached boats that had broken free and was floating uncontrolled downstream. A local swift water rescue team responded but was unable to remove the man from the fast-floating dock. As darkness came, the attempted rescue was pulled back because of the dangerous conditions.
The two deputies and OSP troopers risked their lives as they launched a Sheriff’s Office boat in the river and maneuvered through debris piles, estimated up to 5 times the size of their boat, to find the man floating on the dock at the mercy of the river. They spent nearly 20 minutes trying to reach the man who was intoxicated and refusing their rescue efforts. Through their determination, the officers talked the man off the dock and into their boat in conditions that, without their efforts, the man would not have survived.
Senior Trooper Stone, age 32, has worked for OSP for 9 years. Trooper Baimbridge, age 35, has worked for OSP for 6 years. Both are assigned at the Roseburg Area Command office.