Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on March 18, 1998 · Page 5
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 5

Ukiah, California
Issue Date:
Wednesday, March 18, 1998
Page 5
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THE UKIAH DAILY JOURNAL On the Coast WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18, 1998 — 5 nseen current can make ocean trek deadly Rescuers snatch boy, 11, from bay By RUDY KNOOP Of the Beacon The boy was face down in the water when they picked him up. He was not breathing until firefighter Dan Jones and diver Jim Begley - who Jones had rescued after getting the boy into the boat - breathed air into his lungs and forced some of the salt water out. The small victim was lying in the bottom of the boat when firefighter Dan Hervilla accelerated, tilting the outboard motor back, and nudging the boat's nose up onto the beach. Firefighters and ambulance personnel raced to the boat and carried the boy on a rescue board to a waiting gumey, two of them quickly cutting off his wet suit with scissors, wrapping his pale and slightly blue body with blankets as he moaned softly. A silent killer There is a silent killer lurking at the mouth of Big River. Where the river floods into the sea and the tide and waves pound and shove against the muddy torrent of fresh water, an unseen current rusjles by the sandy beach, then skirts the rock bluffs along the north edge of Mendocino Bay, eventually swirling into the outer bay/,.Twice in four days, Mendocino firefighters and the Coast Guard were deployed to rescue locirt people who were caught in the current. Countless life-threatening incidents have occurred there .over the years. A-Feb. 18 outing turned into a life-or-death struggle because the three adults and three 11-year- olds j in the group from Fort Bragg did not realize how powerful .the current is. |ti caught one of the 11-year- olds*;Brandpn Juntz, sweeping r. him toward the sea on his boogie ; board, which he eventually lost. Twp.of the adults, Rich Holmes and'Begley, pursued him in their kayaks while the third adult and two'.other children watched. Holmes helped Juntz up onto his kayak, but a wave knocked the-.boy off, said Begley, a 44- year r old urchin diver with many years of ocean experience in underwater construction and salvage. Soon both kayakers were in the-water trying desperately to rescye Juntz,' and to keep their own, heads above water. The kayaks were tossed around in the froth, and eventually lost. "I saw the kid come back around. I tried jumpin' off the rocjcs a couple times - he was close so I grabbed him, but the wave hit me and I couldn't hold on;, I lost him again," said Bogley,., • YVhen the call came in, firefighters heard that people were in the water and one was on a rock next to the big island south of the end of Kasten Street. Hervilla piloted the Mendocino fire department's inflatable rescue boat ( from the launching ramp on the river through the bay's turbulent' : waters. Begley said he was convinced the waves would overcome the boat. When he landed the boat Hefvilla said, "This is one of the wors't ones I've seen." Her villa's skill '•'He knew when to cut, when to ffcll back and when to run along the edge in front of the wavfe," Begley said, praising Hervilla's skill. "A less experi- ence'd guy, we would have been baco'h...," he added. '-We had these little kids, and planned on staying in the two- fooBwells," Begley said. "We'd betST going to the beach every day;,a't Caspar for a week... It was exhilarating; the kids loved it." Rescue personnel say Caspar Beach is less dangerous because it is sheltered and does not have a high-volume tributary producing a sfrbng current. Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department Chief Steve Schlafer watched from the cliffs above as Begtey fought the ocean, striding to Itay alive and to help Juntz. "Ttoty should never have been there 1 , but that guy saved that kid'§ life," Schlafer said. Holmes, safe on the rock for the time being, threw his life jacket toward Begley and Juntz, but the current pulled it away from them, Schlafer said. The pair was scooped up by Hervilla and Jones while Schlafer and a small crowd of respondefs arid onlookers watched, hoping Holmes would realize he should stay perched on his rock until the Coast Guard helicopter arrived. With gusts up to 48 mph, communication with the victim on the rock was impossible, even with a bullhorn, and observers wondered how difficult a helicopter rescue would be in the wind. The Humboldt County-based helicopter was in the air when the incident began and had to land and refuel before it could rescue Holmes, who had climbed out of the water onto the rock at 12:35 p.m. A few minutes before 2 p.m., a red-clad Coast Guard rescuer was lowered to the rock and looped a sling around Holmes. The pilot winched the pair to the open door of the hovering aircraft as onlookers on the bluffs and on the streets of Mendocino breathed a sigh of relief. Both adult victims refused treatment but reportedly had tom-up hands and were bruised and battered. Juntz was treated for hypothermia and was released after spending two nights in the coast hospital. "He's fine!" his mother, Susan Juntz, said later. All three men who brought the children to the beach are urchin divers, she said, so her husband thought their son would be safe. "I didn't have any idea that Brandon was even at the beach," she said. When she was called to the hospital, she said her first thought was of a skating mishap. Read about it in the Daily Journal UKL Owned and operated by: JOANNE JURY 125 Orchard Plaza-Ukiah 462-6581 • Next to Longs Drugs Open: Mon.-Sat 9a.m.-6p.m. Sunday 12 noon-5 p.m. Our entire store is take ii^HHHBIBHBBHIi^HH^HB^MMBi FYOU WANT IT IT'S ON SATURDAY, March 21 "The store you know is now close to home" [SEARS Whirlpool HFRIGIDAIRE

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