PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — When Curry County Deputy Sheriff Terry Brown saw a teen boy drowning at Harris Beach, he stripped down, put on a life vest and jumped in the 50-degree water.
It would be another 45 minutes before the two made it to shore, with Brown nearly succumbing to hypothermia.
He and the 14-year-old Brooking, Ore. boy (only identified as “Joshua”), who was caught in a rip current when the rescue began, are recovering at Sutter Coast Hospital and are expected to be released within the week.
“By all accounts Deputy Brown saved Joshua’s life as he would have drowned due to hypothermia,” said Curry County Sheriff John Bishop.
Just after 5:30 p.m., Brown got a call about a boy caught in the surf at Harris Beach. The deputy realized the boy was in imminent danger, stripped down and entered the water, attached by a rope to crews on shore. When Brown reached Joshua, he let go of the rope attaching him to crews on shore so that he could hold the boy’s head above water.
Several attempts by responders, swimmer Logan Couch from the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue and Lt. Ward, to reach the pair failed.
In another attempt, the Coast Guard launched a boat, but conditions were too rough. Finally, on a third attempt, Couch reached the two – who had been in the water for close to 45 minutes and were both showing signs of hypothermia.
Police and Fire officials from Brookings pulled the two on shore. At that point, rescuers said Brown was in critical condition, suffering from hypothermia and losing consciousness. The boy, Joshua was hypothermic but in better shape than Brown, Bishop said.
Park rangers brought an all-terrain vehicle down to the beach, and the two were driven to a waiting ambulance
Bishop said Monday’s ordeal should serve as a reminder to beachgoers as the summer season approaches.
“Water can be very unforgiving,” he said.