Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Daryle Holmstrom, Jan 4, 2013.
Since we know it wasn't Kerry, Kerry might know who it was?
Nope, sure wasn't me. I hadn't heard anything about this. Got anymore details?
Found the newspaper article; http://www.goskagit.com/news/s-w-po...cle_0c8c4810-5602-11e2-b365-001a4bcf887a.html. Lucky guy. I checked water temps last weekend and the river was at about forty degrees. Survival time is short in forty degree water. Good thing there were people close by to rescue him.
My Steelhead fishing days are over. That is until I can replace a Jon boat with motor, two spey rods, reels and all the other stuff a certifiable crazy Steelheader must have. And I won’t forget to repack my inflatable PFD as that was my life saver. But most important, is to convince my wife to let me go on the river again.
What, started out as a perfectly bright and sunny day, temp’s in the 40’s, and the river just off-color enough to swing a fly, turned into a fight for my life. I left the Sedro-Woolley Riverfront Park around 12:30pm headed for my favorite run. Along the way, I noted two guys fishing and two more fellows on the beach with an ATV and Dirt Bike, not sure if they were fishing or just hanging out.
Note: this is where the stars began to align. I then proceeded up-river toward Lyman to fish another run. As I proceeded east I ran across one more star, a fellow name Bruce Engle and his father, as they were heading downriver and back to the Wild Skagit Steelhead Club to pull their boat, after a morning of fishing. I did my polite wave as they went by and began bobber fishing through the run from the boat.
Some of you may be familiar with the area as it only has two very large obstructions. As I drifted through the run aft first, my boat hit one of those logs and which immediately swamped the boat, throwing me in the drink. I quickly figured out I was in deep shit as the river was going to pick up speed through a narrow passage ¼ of a mile downstream. Once in the water, the first thing I did is inflate my PFD and started to think what now you dumb shit!
I collected a few things floating around me and dropped my anchor thinking it might grab the bottom, making it easier to recover my body. I tied myself to the boat just in case. I then thought to myself, I was not in too bad of shape as I remembered the two fellows on the ATV and dirt bike just downriver. I was frantically hoping they saw what kind of predicament I had gotten into as I drifted by and that they would call 911. During this time, I began to think about all the things I learned during my Boy Scout and life guard training days and all the survival articles I read and TV shows I watch. I just kept reminding myself to KEEP CALM and STAY WITH THE BOAT as swimming was not an option with waders on and all my heavy wet clothing.
As luck would have it, when I drifted past the two fellows I noticed that they had become quite active as the Dirt Bike followed me along the river bank for as far as he could go. I could hear him shouting at me or someone on the other bank, but I was not sure who, as I had been in the river about 25 minutes by then. At that point, I at least knew for sure someone had call 911. But, I also knew that I was not out of the woods yet because laying before me was a huge log jam that I later learned was the mouth of “Deadmans Slough.” I was heading right into it. I untied myself from the boat and moved to the bow as my thought was sacrifice the boat and stay on the outboard side. As it turned out, that may not have been my best choice as the boat began to crumple and I was pushed underwater, as the boat flipped over.
I found myself tangled in the anchor line under the boat and underwater and fast running out of air. I somehow fought my way out and popped to the surface, only to discover my life vest was caught on the rail of the boat. I had to push back underwater to unhook the life vest. When I did surface the craziest thing happened, I ended up straddling the root of very large log that I grabbed onto for dear life, thinking wow if only I had a cup of coffee or a beer.
Now, this is where all the other stars come to play. When the sheriff’s office broadcast the 911 call, Rhonda McDermont, an off -duty Sedro Wooly police officer and an intern (her rider) Nicole Vojkovich heard the call and proceeded directly to Wildcat Steelhead Club where I understand she talked to Willard the caretaker and they began making phone calls to boat owners . They were able to reach Bruce, lucky star number two, who had already pulled his boat out and was just on his way home. He then “Hauled Ass” back to the boat launch and told the two police officers to grab their hats and jump in the boat. They headed upriver, and according to Officer Rhonda, it was a good thing Bruce had previously seen me because it saved so much time. There were a couple of other fisherman who thought it was someone else below my location and stopping to check would have taken up precious survival time.
Thank God Bruce had seen me, as at that point I was beginning to fail and was having trouble keeping up my “Positive Mental Attitude” (PMA), something I learned on a Boy Scout trip on Mount Rainier back in the 70’s. The next thing I remember I was looking up to see two angelic faces and one big ass fisherman pulling me into his boat.
Thanks to the paramedics and especially Jeff as they rushed me to the hospital where my core temperature was down to 94 degrees. The ER began pumping in warm IV’s and surrounded my body with hot air. Later, the Doctor told me that I could not have been in the water more than 5 to 10 minutes as I would have been dead for sure.
However, we know now it was at least 35 minutes as we piece back the time span. I believe that the reason I am here to write this is due to my polypropylene long johns, waders, neoprene gloves, a baklava and a hat, and the most important item my PFD and a few lucky stars all aligned, not even counting all of those folks involved in my rescue.
Again, a special thanks for the bystanders, first responders and hospital staff at Sedro Woolley Hospital. And a very special thanks to my wife, as she had to retell my story over and over again to concerned friends and family. I promise never to put you through that again.
Now for the criticism: It is true my boat was way too small for the river with little or no freeboard and I was just asking for it. I should have been paying more attention to the speed of the river and never have taken my sights off those two obstructions. Early on I lowered my anchor thinking I would catch the bottom on my drift, however, when I hit the log jam I wish I never would have dropped it as this is where things went from bad to worse.
Glad to hear you made it out okay! Happy New Year!
Wow! Glad your okay Don. Looks like you'll have to do some ride-alongs for awhile. Thanks for the post. I'm sure it will be a good reminder for the rest of us.
I'm glad your alive. My Grandpa ran every accessible river in SW WA in a 12' John with an old Evenrude outboard. No lifejacket of any kind. As an adult, in hindsight, I think he was nuts. But I'd still go with him in that boat if he was still around, so your not alone in the nuthouse
Again, glad to hear you are safe and sound.
Thanks for sharing your story and I am happy you made it through to share with us and to fish another day.
Good news that you came out as well as you did. The other things can be replaced but steelheaders are a valuable commodity.
Hope things get better for you in 2013.
Pretty lucky; good thing those stars were in alignment. Be safe.
Holy shit Don. I am glad as hell you made it. What a tale you have.
Good grief, that is harrowing. Glad you are OK. I can happily lend you a reel if need be, drop me a PM if you need something soon.
Wow. Glad you made it Don.
Damn Don! Glad you made it out ok.
Don thanks for your story. I had a similar experience in '05 and will never forget the folks who, without thinking twice, put themselves at risk to get us out. So glad your day ended like ours and that you're around to fish another day..