Joshua Johnson and Neihana Tawera, both 21, of Turangi, kept telling each other not to give up as they clung to gear bags to float after their new dinghy capsized.
Search-and-rescue crews who helped find the men have described their survival in the 13-degree water [55.4 degrees F] as a miracle.
The maximum survival time treading water between 10 and 15 Celsius is considered to be two to four hours. Exhaustion and unconsciousness set in between one to two hours.
"I wasn't going to give in, nor was Neihana; we just keep saying to each other, 'Bro, we're just about there, don't give up'," Johnson, a chef, said as he recovered at his Turangi home yesterday. "We were encouraging each other all the time, telling each other we nearly [were at the shore], but in fact we were not really getting anywhere.
"I knew in my head I would get to shore; I knew I was just not going to give up, and nor was Neihana." The pair had "excitedly" launched their four-metre aluminium dinghy about 2pm on Tuesday. It was the first time the pair - friends since they were 5 - had been in a boat on their own.
They were dressed only in light clothing and did not think about taking lifejackets, said Johnson, an asthmatic. "We just wanted to get out there; the lake was smooth and we thought we would cruise around the bays."
They went in and out of the small bays near Waihi Village until the sun began to go down, then headed back to Tokaanu. "The wind was getting up and it was getting very choppy; waves were piling into the boat."
Unknown to them, the boat had taken on water, which filled the stern, causing the bow to point upwards. "We knew we just had to get out of there: it was getting pretty scary." As they went to swap positions, a wave caught them, capsizing the boat and throwing them both into the water.
Each time they tried to right the boat, it would flip upside down again. "We were pretty terrified, we just looked at each other and thought what should we do?"
They tried to paddle the boat back to shore, about 300 metres away, but it was hopeless. Finding it hard to keep afloat without lifejackets, they retrieved gear bags from the boat to use as flotation.
For the next two hours they clung to the boat, then decided to head for shore. But they spent another two hours clinging to their bags, going nowhere. "The bags saved us, they kept us afloat," Johnson said.
"We were really scared and we were both having our moments; a couple of times we nearly broke down, thinking we may not make it. "We just kept helping each other, telling each other we're going to get there. "We both didn't want to die like this, but we didn't know if anyone was coming to help us.
"I remember just looking up at the sky and kicking towards the shore. I wasn't really with it and Neihana grabbed me and guided me towards the shore." About 8.30pm the Taupo rescue helicopter crew spotted the pair using a searchlight and night-vision goggles, about 200 metres from the boat.
"We could see them circling the boat with the lights," Johnson said. "We were yelling as hard as we can but we knew they couldn't hear us." Tawera, a Conservation Department worker, waved his small headlight to get pilot Nat Every's attention.
"I knew then I was going to get home," Johnson said. "I think we could have gone on longer but really we probably only had another 30 minutes left. "We're both strong swimmers, and we have a bit of extra meat around us, which helped."
Both men were treated for hypothermia. Johnson was discharged from Taupo Hospital the same night, and Neihana from Rotorua Hospital yesterday. Lake Taupo harbourmaster Phillip King said he would talk to the men about not having lifejackets - an offence punishable by an instant $200 fine.
"It is frustrating when people continue not to have lifejackets when they go out on the lake," King said. "It's really beyond belief these guys lived. If it wasn't for the search and rescue people, they would not be here today."
SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) - Police in Montgomery County are doing a search and rescue exercise this week.
The classroom portion of the exercise will be held Wednesday through Friday at the former Maryland State Police hangar in Colesville. The practical exercise, which may include helicopters, K-9 teams and police search & rescue teams, is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday in the Gaithersburg area.
Police say the goal of the exercise is to give officers some practical experience in coordinating and responding to a missing persons search. The department responds to more than 4,000 missing person-related calls each year.
GOLDEN, Colo., May 31, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Outward Bound has been the subject of an incorrect story that broke earlier today about a search and rescue operation occurring at Willow Lake in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains of Colorado following a boating accident on May 25. Several news outlets initially reported incorrectly that the presumed-dead victim of the canoeing accident was an Outward Bound trainee.
While conducting a training exercise on May 25, Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS) staff found a member of the public, Natalie Brechtel, 28, of Santa Barbara, Calif., by the side of Willow Lake and treated/stabilized her for moderate hypothermia. Brechtel reported that she last saw her partner, Jesse Peterson, 27, of Alma, Colo., also a member of the public, at 7:00pm that evening, clinging to a canoe in Willow Lake. The two had been canoeing when the boat flipped. Reportedly, Peterson did not know how to swim and neither Brechtel nor Peterson were wearing personal flotation devices.
The Outward Bound Administrative Incident Commander, who was on call at the Leadville, Colo. base camp, was immediately contacted via satellite phone by the senior Outward Bound staff trainer who was on the scene of the accident and reported the above information about Brechtel and Peterson. The Incident Commander then contacted the Saguache County Sheriff, who stated that Search and Rescue (SAR) would be sent out the following morning. Outward Bound staff assumed responsibility for the continued well-being of Brechtel during the night. Outward Bound staff also searched the perimeter of the lake for Peterson from 8:00pm to 8:30pm that evening, as well as from 6:30am to 7:30am the following morning, but found nothing.
Outward Bound staff continued to offer assistance to SAR when their quick response team arrived on foot at the scene later on the morning of May 26. The staff also offered continued support in the event that the follow-up SAR team, arriving by horseback, needed additional help portaging equipment at several creek crossings.
"Outward Bound is deeply saddened by this tragic accident that we encountered and for the loss of Jesse Peterson. We remain concerned for the well-being of Natalie Brechtel," said Peter A. O'Neil, Executive Director of Colorado Outward Bound School. "Outward Bound's instructional staff receive significant training and certification in wilderness emergency medicine and crisis response and were able to address the situation accordingly. The actions of our instructors exhibit one of the founding principles of Outward Bound: being of service to others."
About Outward Bound
As the pioneer in outdoor education for the last 50 years, Outward Bound is the premier provider of experience-based outdoor leadership programs, offering over 1,000 courses throughout the year and across the U.S. for youth and adults. Outward Bound has taken over one million people of all ages on adventures that inspire character development, self-discovery, leadership skills and service ethic. Today, Outward Bound serves 70,000 students and instructors annually, many of whom receive scholarship support. Outward Bound courses change lives, giving students the tools to see further, climb higher and know their way. Students embark on trips such as backpacking, mountaineering, kayaking, sailing, canyoneering, canoeing, dog sledding, rafting, rock climbing and snow boarding, as well as urban expeditions in their community, and take home from these expeditions true leadership skills and the courage to follow their own path. For more information visit www.outwardbound.org .
News Release from: Klamath Co. Sheriff's Office May 30, 2012 3:46 PM Hat tip: Enie Coffman
Just before 3 P.M. this afternoon, the Oregon Wing of the Civil Air Patrol located a possible crash site and reported it to Lake County Incident Command.
An Oregon National Guard HH-60 Blackhawk helicopter was dispatched to the scene and confirmed the tail number of the airplane was that of Tony Nicholls'. The occupant was deceased. The aircraft wreckage was at 6500 feet in elevation on the west face of Hart Mountain. The location of the crash is approximately 13 miles North East of Plush, Oregon.
An investigation is underway at the scene. The FAA and the NTSB are being notified of the location of the aircraft.
More to follow as it becomes available. Next of kin has been notified. Confirmation of the aircraft's occupant is assumed only at this time pending positive identification.
By Cassandra Morris Hat tip: Ernie Coffman
Sierra Madre Search and Rescue, which is part of the countywide Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Underground Search and Rescue team, submitted this first-person account of what happened during one of their recent missions: a body recovery in the Arroyo Tapiado mud caves in San Diego's Anza-Borrego State Park.
People often wonder about the details of emergencies and how what appears to be either complete chaos or inactivity results in anything being accomplished.
Like many emergencies, search and rescue operations are exercises in problem solving in often-difficult circumstances. Many people are familiar with the more typical missing or injured hiker incident at Chantry Flats. This is a bit of insight into a more unusual operation, the recent body recovery in one of the Arroyo Tapiado mud caves in Anza-Borrego State Park.
Guillermo Pino’s body had been located at the bottom of a narrow, 30-foot deep pit in one of the Arroyo Tapiado mud caves. As a result of having participated in search efforts in April, rescuers were familiar with the challenges that would be faced.
Art Fortini of Sierra Madre Search and Rescue was tasked with leading the underground rescue effort last Tuesday. Joining him were two additional members of the Sierra Madre team along with members of the Montrose Search and Rescue Team and the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Emergency Services Detail (ESD).
Years of collective experience and training were immediately put to use assessing the situation to weigh the risks of any recovery. With those risks in mind, and armed with information gathered during the previous day’s efforts by the San Bernardino Cave Rescue Team, rescuers assembled outside the cave and formulated a set of primary and alternative plans to remove Pino’s body from the crevice in which it was wedged.
Plan "A" was to quarry away the floor of a small side passage to a depth of roughly eight feet, shore up the walls, and access Pino from the side. The crevice was extremely narrow.
"I'm going to say only 10 inches wide at the top, and it bells out to 18 inches further down, but that's not very much room," said Fortini.
While work was underway to implement Plan A, another Sierra Madre rescuer, Barbara Fortini, heard noises in the ceiling at a level below the side passage. She indicated that there were two ceiling "leads," a passage that has not been explored, from which the noise was coming. Rescuers rappelled down to the lower level to assess the two climbs.
"The first lead was rather dicey, but I managed to get up, squirm through a tight upward angling passage, into a tighter horizontal passage, and poke my head around a corner," said Fortini. "I saw Guillermo’s feet about a yard away through a six-inch wide crack.” Checking the other lead he found that the climb was easier, and it enabled rescuers to see Pino’s feet through an even narrower constriction.
Rescuers now had three options for accessing him. "When word got to the surface that we now had several options for recovering Guillermo, the mood in the CP underwent a palpable change from near hopelessness to guarded optimism," said Fortini.
Lumber was brought into the cave to create a safe working platform for accessing and digging in the first ceiling lead. The smallest team member widened the initial passage, allowing SMSR’s Jon Pedder to enter the passage and continue the effort. Rescuers ascended their ropes approximately 25 feet back up to the upper level (the Plan "A" location) and started digging there as well. Eventually, rescuers were digging at all three locations. Thanks to the convoluted, three-dimensional nature of the cave, rescuers could work without risk of dropping debris on each other.
All of the digging to this point was done with simple hand tools, which minimized vibration and risk to the rescuers. The walls of the two ceiling leads were rock rather than the easily-removed siltstone. Like many aspects of search and rescue, this proved to be a two-edged sword: it made the passage widening efforts significantly slower, but it also eliminated the need to install shoring. Work to widen the ceiling leads took several hours.
Once the two ceiling leads were sufficiently widened the medical examiner entered the cave to examine the scene. "We then widened one of the ceiling excavations a bit more and used a rope system to lower Guillermo’s body to the lower level of the cave. He was no longer trapped," said Fortini.
Pino was now free of the confines of the crevice and rescuers could begin the next phase of the recovery effort: moving him through several hundred feet of tight, serpentine passage filled with many, many hairpin turns. It took roughly two hours to get Guillermo out of the cave by literally moving him one or two feet at a time. By about 8:30 p.m., Guillermo Pino’s body was brought out of the cave.
The recovery effort took roughly 12 hours, with 10 rescuers working in the cave the entire time. Additional search and rescue, State Park and San Diego Sheriff’s Department resources provided support from the surface. Fortini said, "I would say this is probably the most technically challenging rescue I've been on with the mine rescue team. Being able to bring closure to the family is something that makes all of us feel good."
The Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Underground Search and Rescue Team is a composite team made up of members of the Sierra Madre, Montrose, Antelope Valley and Malibu search and rescue teams. The group is one of only a few certified mine rescue units in the state. Team members serve as civilian volunteers or Reserve Deputies on their respective teams. The search and rescue teams are specialized resources that can be called upon to respond to incidents anywhere in the state.
By Katy Moeller
Search and rescue volunteers discuss the 4,000 square mile area in Southeastern Oregon and Nevada that is being searched for Tony Nicholls and his airplane. PROVIDED BY KLAMATH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, OREGON
Searchers in Southern Oregon are involved in their sixth day of searching for a Meridian man who went missing after flying out of the Lakeview, Ore., airport late Thursday afternoon. Search managers have asked sheriffs throughout Oregon for help in finding Tony Nicholls and his plane, according to a news release Wednesday.
The 48-year-old was flying his 1978 Grumman Cheetah home after dropping off his stepsons. Officials are hoping to get information from anyone who may have seen or heard an aircraft east of Lakeview between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Pacific Time Thursday. If you were in the area and have something to report to searchers, call the tip line: 541-883-5130, Ext. 603.
Family and friends of Nicholls have set up a Facebook page called "Find Tony Nicholls" to help coordinate supplies, resources and support for the agencies working the search. Many private residents want to help in the search, but officials are asking that they not "self-dispatch," and to coordinate with search managers.
Searchers from numerous agencies and groups are searching a 4,000 square mile area for Nicholls and his plane. The terrain includes high desert tablelands and plateaus, heavily forested mountains and canyons. Snowfall in some areas since Thursday night has added some difficulty in searching for Nicholls' white plane, but the weather has warmed up to 75 in the Lakeview area.
Lake County Sheriff's Office is leading the investigation, but Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger, an expert in searching for missing planes, is acting as spokesman for the effort. The command post for the search is at Adel, Ore.
The list of county, state, federal and private agencies and groups involved in the search includes: Oregon Emergency Management, Lake County Sheriff's Office, Klamath County Sheriff's Office, Emergency Airlift (helicopter), Josephine County Sheriff's Office, Curry County Sheriff's Office, Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, Harney County Sheriff's Office, Washoe County's Sheriff's Office, Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office, Modoc County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service and Oregon Department of Forestry.
The Civil Air Patrol is providing fixed wing search planes based in the Lakeview Airport. The Oregon Army National Guard's Charlie Co., 7-158 Aviation is providing two aircraft (an OH-58 Kiowa helicopter and HH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, equipped with forward-looking infrared) and crews.
A volunteer team that specializes in searching for missing aircraft has been recruited to help with the search for Nicholls and his plane. The team, known as Missing Aircraft Search Team (MAST), primarily works on cold cases but it has also been involved in active searches.
Evinger, the Klamath County sheriff, is a founding member of MAST, which has members in Oregon, California, Minnesota, Maryland and Arizona. Lake County Sheriff McDonald has requested the group's help.
MAST members are conducting the aviation-related interviews with Nicholls' family, friends and others who are familiar with his flying habits. The group is also researching the aircraft's history and characteristics, as well as providing search scenarios for consideration of the search managers. Learn more about MAST on the group's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Missing-Aircraft-Search-Team-MAST/152542881450967.
JoCoSAR among other agencies engaged in this search. A probably incomplete list of participants, likely to grow longer, includes; Lake, Klamath, Curry, Harney,Josephine and Siskiyou Counties with the CAP and Air National Guard all looking for the missing plane and pilot Note the steepness on the topo map of the area (that brown shading is contour lines stacked on each other). Very rugged terrain that runs from about 4,500 feet at Lake Hart to 7,400 feet to the east.
Tony Nicholls, 48, of Meridian, Idaho was piloting a 1978 Grumman, four seat, Cheetah aircraft Thursday evening when he failed to arrive at his destination. Nicholls had flown Thursday afternoon to Lakeview from the Caldwell, Idaho area to drop off two children. He then departed Lakeview, by himself, at approximately 5 p.m. on a return flight to Idaho. There was significant weather at the time, in the region, including snow showers and gusty winds.
There is no control tower at Lakeview and the pilot was not required to contact air traffic control. Radar and cell phone records indicate the last known location for the aircraft was near Hart Lake in the area of Plush, Oregon.
Anyone who saw or heard an airplane in the area Thursday evening is asked to contact the Klamath County Sheriff's office at 541-883-5130 Ext 603. (number corrected from another source).
U.S. Coast Guard accepts General Dynamics-built Rescue 21 Search and Rescue communications system for Sector San Juan
The Rescue 21 system increases the speed and accuracy of maritime search and rescue operations while improving Coast Guard effectiveness in responding to security and maritime environmental threats.
The U.S. Coast Guard has formally accepted the General Dynamics C4 Systems-built Rescue 21 search and rescue communications system now serving Sector San Juan. With the command center located in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sector San Juan is responsible for all Coast Guard missions throughout the Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands region.
Using advanced direction-finding technologies and digital communications, the life-saving Rescue 21 system enables Coast Guard personnel to respond rapidly and efficiently to calls from distressed mariners out to at least 20 nautical miles from shore. The system also enables them to be more effective in responding to security and maritime environmental threats.
"As the national Rescue 21 system, with its 245 towers, moves closer to becoming a nationwide interoperable communication network, we look forward to delivering a much-needed interconnection for port security," said Chris Marzilli, president of General Dynamics C4 Systems. "Rescue 21 is a model program that demonstrates how broadband technologies are improving maritime situational awareness, communication and collaboration among agencies."
Rescue 21 is interoperable with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and emergency first responders' communication systems, enhancing inter-agency cooperation that enables the Coast Guard to be more effective in accomplishing their various homeland security missions. Rescue 21 towers and command centers are also designed to accommodate additional sensors and command and control equipment, which will deliver new and cost-effective capabilities to the Coast Guard's overarching mission.
• Sector San Juan comprises five communication towers, one station and one command and control center.
• The 32nd Rescue 21 sector to go operational, Sector San Juan adds approximately 1000 miles to the systems nationwide coverage
• There are currently 245 towers in use throughout the national Rescue 21 system.
• Rescue 21 monitors more than 41,700 miles of U.S. coastline.