The U.S. Coast Guard presented its Meritorious Public Service Award to Soldotna business owner Doug Green on Friday for his help in rescuing a woman from the rushing waters of the Kenai River in 2000.
During a short award ceremony at the Kenai River Lodge, owned by Green and his wife, Stephanie, Lt. Mark McManus, supervisor of the Marine Safety Detachment in Kenai, read of the rescue events.
While working at the lodge in September that year, Green heard three off-duty Coast Guardsmen yelling that a woman had jumped into the frigid water from the Sterling Highway bridge.
Green, now 38, is a former state champion swimmer and responded immediately to the distress calls, according to the award citation.
Coast Guard Lt. John Humpage was struggling to get the limp body of the woman to shore while battling the strong river current. Humpage was tiring quickly.
Green, without regard for his own safety, and with no survival gear, quickly entered the 40-degree water to assist in the rescue.
The two men were able to get the woman to shore where they treated her for shock until arriving paramedics took over.
On Friday, Green said he later learned the woman had been distraught and attempted suicide.
"About three weeks later, I heard her on the radio," Green said.
"She said she wanted to thank those who saved her life and said she now really values life," he said.
Green, who has owned the lodge for nine years and spends most of his summer working alongside the river, is no stranger to Kenai River rescues.
"About four years ago, I rescued a man who jumped off the bridge and about seven years ago, I rescued a kid who slipped off a rock and into the water," he said.
"In high school, I took state in the 100-yard freestyle sprint," he said. "I'm not good at long distance, so if you're more than 500 yards out, I probably won't be able to save you."
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