Rescuers keep Juneau boy from drowning

Posted: Thursday, August 08, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- Rescuers saved a 12-year-old boy after he nearly drowned Monday night off Douglas Island's Sandy Beach.

Brad Rider, who piloted a Harbor Department boat that picked up the boy, said the boy was saved by Jesse Lown of the Douglas Volunteer Fire Department.

Lown jumped in from the shore with another fire fighter, reached the boy and started swimming him to shore when the boat arrived.

Rider picked up the boy, Lown, the other fire department volunteer, and two members of the Coast Guard, who also jumped into the water from their boat dispatched from Station Juneau.

Police said the boy and two older friends were in an old pump house building off Sandy Beach when a high tide stranded them.

They built a fire, but that got out of control, so they jumped in to make their way to shore.

The two older boys made it but the 12-year-old was pushed away from shore by the current. He held onto pilings and hollered for help.

Stephen Hansen, 14, who was camping on the beach, said he could not see the boy but he could hear his cries for help in the dark. Hansen called police at about 10:45 p.m.

''I got really scared,'' Hansen said. ''When I was calling his name -- it just took so long for him to answer me. He kept saying, 'Help, I'm drowning,' and, 'I'm so cold. It's so cold.' I had my shorts on, ready to dive in, but there was no point. I couldn't even see him. I could only hear him yelling.''

Capital City Fire and Rescue, police, the Coast Guard and the Harbor Department responded to the call.

Rescuers said the boy was going in and out of consciousness, clinging to the wooden piling.

The boy was transported to the Bartlett Memorial Hospital, treated for mild hypothermia and released.

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