That’s the amount of time that had elapsed from the moment the crew working King County Water Taxi’s West Seattle route on Aug. 30 spotted a man overboard in Elliott Bay to the time medics were giving him a clean bill of health.
During those 15 minutes, the three-person crew – relying on its extensive marine safety and emergency training – positioned the MV Doc Maynard near the man, fastened together a rope-and-pulley system, pulled him safely aboard and delivered him to waiting medics.
For their quick-thinking, precision rescue, King County Council Chair Joe McDermott this week recognized the crew – Captain Jeff Bearden, deckhand Amanda Cook and deckhand Bob McDougall.
“It’s an honor to know Captain Bearden, Ms. Cook and Mr. McDougall. These are true professional public servants,” said McDermott. “Their skillful response to a dangerous situation should give confidence to everyone in King County that we’re in excellent hands on this very important regional transit service.”
Flanked by television news cameras, the crew recounted how, shortly after the boat departed Seacrest Park, they saw the man in the water clinging to what appeared to be a chair and blowing a whistle. As Bearden positioned the vessel near the man overboard, McDougall (on the job for only a couple of months) and Cook (an on-call deckhand in her second year with us) prepared to pull the man aboard.
McDougall jumped into his orange rescue suit – required by safety protocol to maintain his body temperature and be easily seen in the water – and dove into Elliott Bay with a harness to swim to the man. Meanwhile, Cook quickly roped together a pulley system to heave the mean aboard.
Although they worked quickly, the crew maintained constant communication with each other and the man. With McDougall guiding and supporting, Cook tugged the ropes to lift the man out of the water via the harness.
Cook, who couldn’t attend this week’s recognition but spoke directly to McDermott beforehand, told him that she was pulling the ropes to get the man aboard for what “felt like forever,” the Councilmember said.
(Check out this video of the rescue shot by Twitter user Skip Tognetti (@togneter))
Eventually, the man came aboard (to a round of applause from relieved passengers who had watched the rescue) and was taken to Pier 52, where medics examined and cleared him. The crew even gave him a ride back to West Seattle. Fishing conditions were still ideal at the time, and the man actually returned to his boat and continued fishing.
“This time he had a life jacket on,” McDougall recalled during this week’s ceremony.
Marine Division Paul Brodeur – who joined several members of our Water Taxi family at this week’s ceremony – said our crews must complete extensive training and be put through several scenarios to assure they are ready for situations just like this.
Here is the official language of this week’s recognition to Bearden, Cook and McDougall. Great work!
WHEREAS, the crew of the Water Taxi, MV Doc Maynard, noticed a distressed man in Elliott Bay as it pulled away from Seacrest Dock in West Seattle on the evening of August 30; and
WHEREAS, Captain Jeff Bearden skillfully navigated the boat to facilitate the rescue and called for further aid; and
WHEREAS, Deckhand Amanda Cook threw out a life jacket and prepared the man overboard equipment; and
WHEREAS, Deckhand Bob McDougall donned a rescue suit and entered Elliott Bay to assist the distressed man that medical personnel later determined to be unharmed; and
WHEREAS, the newly trained crew flawlessly executed their safety training to pull the man out of the water and onto the MV Doc Maynard; and
WHEREAS, the crew displayed bravery and a deep commitment to public service;
NOW, THEREFORE, we, the Metropolitan King County Council, recognize the
CREW of MV DOC MAYNARD
for their heroic and life-saving efforts.
DATED this fourth day of October, 2018.