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Small Piece of Equipment Big Help in Rescuing Hypothermic Man from Overturned Kayak near Brookings
Sergeant Lowell Lea
Oregon State Police - Coos Bay
(541) 888-2677 ext. 233

Photograph link valid 30 days - Source: Oregon State Police
A small piece of equipment was a big help last week when an Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division trooper and Brookings Fire Department personnel rescued a 44-year old Brookings-area man from an overturned kayak in the Chetco River near Brookings. Using the trooper's throw bag, the hypothermic man was pulled from the river and taken to a local hospital where he was treated and later released.
On November 9, 2010 at approximately 10:30 a.m. OSP Senior Trooper Dan Stinnett responded with Brookings Fire Department to North Bank Chetco River Road east of Brookings regarding a report that someone was screaming for help from the river's direction. Stinnett and firefighters arrived finding the man, who appeared hypothermic hanging onto an overturned kayak in the river about 15 feet from the embankment. The man's head was visible above water and he appeared to be going in and out of consciousness.
Stinnett trailed through heavy blackberry bushes to the river's edge. Using a throw bag, a nylon bag containing about 75 feet of rope, Stinnett tossed it toward the man and landed it next to his wrist. The man grabbed the throw bag and was pulled by Stinnett and firefighters to the shore.
The man, who was described as a beginning kayaker and wasn't wearing a wet suit, was transported by ambulance to Sutter Coast Hospital in Crescent City, California. He was treated for hypothermia and released later that day. The man told Stinnett he was in the water 20 – 30 minutes before they arrived.
Conditions were described as stormy and water temperatures near 50 degrees. Stinnett retrieved the kayak and took it to the man's home.
The throw bag is standard issue to OSP Fish & Wildlife Division troopers for use in these types of situations. When tossed, the rope unravels out of the bag as it travels in the air toward its target. After landing, the person grabs onto the rope or the looped end so they can be pulled back toward the thrower.