Thanks to everyone who’s asked about the fire/police response to Seacrest late this morning. A diver got into trouble – but there’s more to the story, as you can see in the photo above, shared by Roger. King County Department of Transportation spokesperson Rochelle Ogershok confirms that as the Rachel Marie was pulling into Seacrest, one of their crew members spotted “someone waving in the water, as though they were in trouble. When they got closer, they could see something was wrong. So the deckhand jumped into the water,” and managed to get the diver out of the water. The Coast Guard was called, and they along with other authorities took over. We know Seattle Fire units responded and are waiting for official word from them; WSB contributor Katie Meyer says scanner traffic at the time indicated the diver was described as a man around 50, believed to have been in distress after a rapid ascent. We’ll add any more information we get about his status.
ADDED 5:31 PM: SFD didn’t have additional information about the diver, aside from the same info we reported above. However, there’s a bit more about the heroism. KCDOT hadn’t heard about this just yet when we called – but now they’ve put together an entire news release:
King County employees participated in the rescue of a distressed scuba diver Tuesday morning as the Rachel Marie water taxi pulled away from the Seacrest Dock for their regularly scheduled 11 a.m. sailing. Several passengers witnessed the rescue operation.
“This rescue is yet another example of our county employees’ deep commitment to public service and their instinct to go beyond the call of duty,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “I thank the crew of the Rachel Marie for their good work, and I wish the diver a speedy recovery.”
Shortly into the trip across Elliott Bay, the ship’s crew noticed a diver who appeared to be in distress. The boat captain, Neal Amaral, maneuvered the vessel close to the diver as he called for assistance over the radio. Crew member Aaron Barnett [county photo at right], quickly dressed in an onboard rescue suit, jumped into the water, and assisted the diver. Barnett was in the water for about 10 minutes while the diver was maneuvered into a sling.
“We knew what we had to do when we saw him. There was no other option,” said Barnett, the deckhand who dove into the water to assist the diver. “We all worked together as a team. I just happened to be the one who went in the water, but the whole crew pulled together to help him. I’m just glad we saw him, and we hope he’s okay.”
The Seattle Port Police responded to the radio call in their vessel, and they, along with the Coast Guard, were able to get the diver to land and to the hospital for medical care. His condition is unknown at this time.
“I commend the entire crew of the Rachel Marie for their quick-thinking and heroic actions this morning,” Ferry District Chair Joe McDermott said. “Their actions and those of the Coast Guard and Port Police helped to secure a successful rescue.”
Barnett and Captain Amaral are both former U.S. Coast Guard members. Barnett plans to graduate from the University of Washington this spring with a graduate degree in Marine Affairs.