An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Sector Columbia River hoisted the kayakers and transported them to the helicopter pad at Pacific City Airport, where they were met by awaiting emergency medical services. Their medical condition is unknown at this time.
Watchstanders at Sector Columbia River received a call from Tillamook County Dispatch at 1:47 p.m., requesting assistance in rescuing two kayakers in distress. One of the kayakers had fallen into the water near Haystack Rock. The Jayhawk helicopter crew was diverted from training, and a Coast Guard Station Tillamook Bay 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crew launched.
The Pacific City Fire Chief arrived on scene at 1:53 p.m. and reported spotting the kayakers approximately 50-60 yards offshore.
The helicopter crew arrived on scene at 2:15 p.m. and located the two men. Within 15 minutes, the rescue swimmer had recovered both men.
“It was good that they were wearing life jackets,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Billy Sizemore, the flight mechanic on the Jayhawk crew. “But, they were also wearing waist-high rubber waders, which filled with water and counteracted the buoyancy of the life jackets. Between the cold water and the heavy waders, the man simply couldn’t pull himself back into his kayak before succumbing to exhaustion and the preliminary stages of hypothermia.”
The men were dropped off to EMS at 2:35 p.m. Sea’s were at 2-feet and the water temperature was 56-degrees Fahrenheit.
The Coast Guard reminds boaters that with a changing season comes warmer weather; however, the waters of the Pacific Northwest are still dangerously cold. It’s best to wear wet suits or dry suits along with a Coast Guard-approved life jacket whenever venturing out onto the ocean or waterways.