About the early-morning helicopter search over Puget Sound: 1 person dead, 1 in critical condition

Around 5 am, we got texts from a few people in southwesternmost West Seattle and beyond – The Arroyos and Shorewood – wondering about what appeared to be a helicopter search/rescue operation involving the U.S. Coast Guard. We couldn’t find out anything at the time, and later tried reaching the USCG by phone with no success, but now this USCG news release is just in, distributed by the King County Sheriff’s Office:

Coast Guard air and boat crews rescued one woman and recovered one man after their 15-foot paddleboat was reportedly beset by weather near Three Tree Point in Burien, Wash., Sunday morning.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Port Angeles and a Station Seattle rescue boat crew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium responded to the incident and transferred both mariners to local Emergency Medical Service personnel.

Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound watchstanders received initial notification from King County Dispatch at 2:53 a.m., reporting two individuals aboard a paddleboat potentially beset by weather. Sector personnel established communication with the mariners via cell phone and reported hearing a loud scream before losing connection.

Once on scene, the Coast Guard aircrew discovered the capsized vessel near Seahurst Park.

At 4:51 a.m., the aircrew located an unresponsive female in the water and vectored in the boat crew to rescue her. The crew transported her to the Fauntleroy Ferry dock where a local EMS crew was waiting.

At 5:02 a.m., a male was recovered by the helicopter crew and transported to Boeing airfield where he was pronounced dead by a local EMS crew at 5:38 a.m.

The female is reportedly in critical condition and is being treated at Harborview Medical Center hospital.

KCSO is investigating. Sgt. Cindi West says the man who died was from Burien, the woman from Vashon Island.

13 Replies to "About the early-morning helicopter search over Puget Sound: 1 person dead, 1 in critical condition"

  • Chuck January 21, 2018 (11:33 am)

    I cannot imagine what anyone was thinking to be out in this blustery weather, on a paddleboard!, in the dark. Those are the kinds of conditions that only duck hunters and salmon fishers go out in, but we use big boats with big motors. My condolences to the poor victims and family.

    • WSB January 21, 2018 (11:39 am)

      I know that’s the obvious first thought, but we have no idea about the circumstances – if they’d been out for hours and gotten lost, were close to shore but swept out in the current, who knows. And “paddleboat” is what the Coast Guard uses to describe the craft, not paddleboard – I haven’t seen that term before but Google confirms it’s a certain type of human-powered craft. – TR

  • Orwell January 21, 2018 (11:59 am)

     So very Sad and almost unbelievable to need to search for two mariners out on a paddleboard during high waves, extreme chop, totally unstable waters during a serious high windstorm. I think it is a West Seattle story as I did see the helicopter go back and forth in front of the Arroyos and they took one of the mariners to the Fauntleroy Ferry Dock where I suspect operations had to be curtailed for a time. I hope this was not a situation involving DDD – drink, drugs or dares.  Deep condolences to families and friends.  A lesson for all, I hope.

    • JanS January 21, 2018 (1:23 pm)

      they were on a paddle boat, not a paddleboard, per WSB above.  So sorry someone perished because of this. Condolences to families and friends who may be reading this. Yes, it was ill advised, but someone died, whatever the circumstances were. Very sad, indeed :(

  • Orwell January 21, 2018 (12:06 pm)

    I stand corrected re correct definition of Paddleboat.  Thank you for that important distinction WSB.

  • Gini January 21, 2018 (1:26 pm)

    So very sad. The noise of the rescue helicopter woke me up and I knew it had to be serious. Heartbreaking when they were probably just wanting to have fun  and maybe didn’t know about the high wind warning. 

  • Alki Resident January 21, 2018 (1:34 pm)

    He was from Burien and she is from Vashon. It was a paddle boat not board. Horrible choices were made last nite. 

  • m January 21, 2018 (5:44 pm)

    A man died today and a woman’s in the hospital in critical condition. The investigation is likely not yet complete. What does anyone possibly gain from premature speculation and judgement at this time? Even if it’s proven to have been due to poor decisions, it’s still just as tragic and heartbreaking. I extend my condolences to the woman and the couple’s loved ones.

  • Citizen Sane January 22, 2018 (10:27 am)

    I’m a little puzzled by the boat description as well. By ‘paddleboat’, are they talking about those 2 person boats which are powered by foot pedals that turn a little paddlewheel under the boat, or a canoe or rowboat?

    Anyway, a very sad affair; We live on Beach Drive, and my recollection was that it was blowing like stink that night; not wise to be out.

    • WSB January 22, 2018 (10:46 am)

      As I said above, if you google the term paddleboat, you’ll see a variety of examples.

  • Evan Estep, PO2 USCG January 24, 2018 (7:28 pm)

    As of 23JAN18: The female victim is awake and responsive according to Medic One staff. She is responding to tasks and directions and is expected to have little to no neurological damage. The boat crew from USCG Station Seattle that recovered her used an AED to revive her along with 30 minutes of CPR while transporting her to waiting EMS on shore.

    Petty Officer 2nd Class Evan Estep

    USCG Station Seattle Public Affairs Petty Officer

    • WSB January 24, 2018 (7:31 pm)

      Thank you for the update!

  • Curate February 7, 2018 (4:31 pm)

    In case anyone is still following this situation here, the Seattle Times has a great story today about the device that Harborview used to warm up her body and act as her heart and lungs during the acute phase of her recovery. Truly remarkable! And the story provides more details on the incident and what the incredible Coast Guard rescuers went through to find and save the woman.


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