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Women stuck under Deception Pass Bridge in canoe OK

By MICHELLE BEAHM
Whidbey News-Times Reporter
August 11, 2014 · 9:40 AM
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State parks was summoned to Deception Pass Monday night to assist two women in a canoe. No one was injured, but the women placed a call in distress when they got stuck under the bridge, according to Jack Hartt, Deception Pass manager.

"They were fine; they were still in their canoe," Hartt said. "No injuries, no problems, they were just tired. They couldn't fight against the current."

The women launched their canoe from West Beach and the rising tide prevented them from getting back, Hartt said.

When the park's rescue boat arrived, the women boarded it and their canoe was towed back to West Beach.

"Fortunately, not a rescue so much as two women who were just tired and in the wrong place with the wrong craft," Hartt said.

This incident was among a few incidents reported near Deception Pass during the last few weeks.

On July 24, seven 12-year-old kayaking students were separated from their instructors and were helicoptered to Whidbey General Hospital. The group, from Academic Adventures, became separated when one of the instructors' kayak was tipped over from a swell and the other instructor went to help.

The students stayed together close to the shore, but the current took the instructors around a bend, obstructing view of their students, which was when the instructors called for emergency assistance.

Andrew Rice, executive director of Academic Adventure, said the instructors are well trained and had safety gear, such as VHF radios, first-aid supplies, bilge pumps and more.

They and the students were all wearing wetsuits and secure lifejackets. The students also received days of training in safety skills before they were taken to Deception Pass.

"We've learned to prioritize making sure that all the bases are covered, making sure that weather reports are followed, making sure our … instructors know what to do," Rice said. "In fact, they did know what to do; they made the right call in the situation, being separated like that with out-of-sight distance like that."

In another incident, on July 26, a rowboat overturned under the bridge near the Fidalgo Island side of the Pass. Two paddlers were rescued. On July 27, two kayakers were reported in distress, one in the water and one in the boat of a passer-by.

Hartt said that the number of distress calls in the area is higher than normal, and it's usually late July and early August that responders are the busiest.

"Most of them are due to inattention or people in places with not adequate life preserving equipment or wrong kind of boat," Hartt said.

Deception Pass State Park receives two million visitors a year, so, relatively speaking, the number of incidents are very few, Hartt said.


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