Good Samaritan Rescues Drowning Man

Tonight I took Simon back down to the ocean (Shilshole bay/ Golden Gardens) in hopes of getting some decent six month photos of him. The lighting wasn’t great as it was very overcast so I was just walking the beach with him in my pocket sling. I was at the far north end of the beach when I heard what sounded like someone screaming “HELP! HELP!” from the water. I scanned the water but I couldn’t see anyone. Then I spotted what looked two ducks out on the water near a buoy about 500 yards off shore. Then a train came, the train tracks run parallel to the beach and the train was so loud that I couldn’t hear anything else. I looked through my camera to see if I could get a better view but it just looked like two dark spots on the water and I just wasn’t sure. There was a family a little ways away from me on the beach they were also scanning the water so I walked over to them and asked them if they thought they had heard someone calling for help. They had heard it too and they were debating whether or not there were people out in the water and whether or not they should call 911. I encouraged them to call and I told them that I would call myself had I not left my cell phone in the car. So the dad of the family called and was on the phone for some time with the operator giving details and trying to describe where we were on the beach. This whole time the train was still passing so he had a very difficult time talking over the noise. We kept watching the two dark spots on the water. Then I noticed a paddle surfer about 300-400 yards off shore but much further south. He was heading in the direction of the buoy. I pointed it out to the mom and said “Look he heard it too, he is going to investigate!” We watched eagerly as he headed out towards the buoy. But then he turned back and started heading south again. At this point the dad was still on the phone but I thought I should to do something. So I ran down the beach towards the paddle surfer and started calling out to him. He was quite far off shore and couldn’t hear me over the train (seriously, I think this was the worlds longest train – and it slowed WAY down). He came closer towards the shore and I waved to him and called out to him again. He called back be we couldn’t understand each other over the train noise. He slowly started making his way back towards the shore and I shouted “Did you hear someone call for help?” and I pointed towards the buoy. “Can you check?” I screamed. He looked out towards the buoy and then turned and started paddling in that direction At this point the tide was really starting to come in and the wind was kicking up so it took him really long time to get out there. I walked back up the beach towards the family and we watched him approach the buoy. Pretty soon we could see that the paddle surfer did see something in the water. He went to the north side of the buoy and stooped down. It looked liked he was pulling someone on to his board. By this time I could here the ambulance and fire truck sirens coming into the park.  We were at the farthest possible point from the parking lot and they could not see us. I started to run back down the beach to the parking lot tell the EMS personnel where they were needed. On the way a young man stopped me and asked if I was going to get the firemen. I responded that I was and he said he would run for me since I had a baby.  I went back to watch and pretty soon a coast guard boat came and went out to the paddle surfer. By this time the sun had set and it was really dark so we couldn’t see much other then the lights of the cost guard boat.  A bunch of the EMS personnel came out on the beach and the cost guard boat sped off towards the dock at the marina at the south end of the beach. The paddle surfer was  left alone out in the water and we a waited eagerly as he made his was back to the shore. A crowd started to gather on the beach around the EMS personnel. It soon became apparent that only one person had been pulled from the water and that the coast guard as looking for a second. One of the EMS personnel had some sort of a night vision camera and was scanning the water and pretty soon four more cost guard boats started crisscrossing the area.  When the paddle surfer made it back to the beach the EMS  personnel started hounding him with questions. I felt bad for him, he was wearing a wet suit top and swim trunks but it was starting to get chilly and no one handed him a blanket or anything.  I stayed and listened to what he had to say hoping to get his name. He said that when he got out there that there was only one guy in the water, he was conscious and knew his name but was very distraught and kept saying that his buddy was gone that he had gone under the water.  The paddle surfer had asked him what had happened and he had said that the two of them had thought it would be fun to swim out to the buoy but when they got out there they were too tired to swim back and the current was very strong and they started to get too cold. One of them EMS guys asked if they were wearing wet suits, the paddle surfer responded that no, they were not. A police man got out a note book and flash light and started taking down details from the paddle surfer but I didn’t catch his name. In my mind he is a true hero and Good Samaritan.  The wind started to really pick up and since I didn’t have a hat for Simon I decided that I better head home.The cost guard was still looking for the other swimmer when I left and I hope they found him though I am fearful that he was overcome by hypothermia and exhaustion. I am sure that his story will be in the news tomorrow so hopefully they Good Samaritan will be credited with saving at least one life. If anyone knows his name please email me. This was quite the event for me to witness.

These photos are very poor quality, there was almost no light and I didn’t have a tripod so I had to use the highest ISO on my camera.

The paddle surfer approaching the man in the water. The blue dot is the light on the buoy the paddle surfer is standing on his board to the right of it.

The paddle surfer assisting the man. You can see that he is bent over and has pulled them man up on his board.

The coast guard finally arriving.

Coast guard boats looking for the second swimmer.


EMS personnel and by standers searching the water for the second swimmer. You can see the EMS man with the night vision camera slightly off center. The buoy is above the head of the man 3 people in from the right edge of the photo. This just gives you an idea how far out from shore these men swam.

…………………. UPDATE………………….
The news and newspaper are saying that the search was called off around 11pm last night. No other substantial details have been given other then the fact that the missing man is in his 20s and is wearing white shorts and no shirt. However, there are some other photos on the My Ballard blog.

Seattle Times Story
King 5 Story
Seattle PI story
KIRO TV story
MSNBC AP story


Updated PI story from Friday morning (8/22)


Portfolio | Contact Me | Book a Session
connect with us on social media
Follow Me on Facebook   . Follow Me on Twitter  . Follow Me on Pinterest    . Follow Me on flickr


  1. Wow. What an experience. I’m thankful one could be saved.
    Your account was much more interesting than the one in the newspaper.

  2. Wow, what a story….were you able to sleep last night?

  3. as a lifeguard when younger, that triggered the memory of the feeling during an emergency…but this was WAY more critical than my handful of tense moments. I could not help but cry for the the young man that went under. Please post the story when there is an update…wow. And, yeah, did you sleep? I always stayed together during the emergency, but would crumble after, overcome with emotion…

  4. OH…and my brother saved an unconsciousness woman choking at his restaurant he worked at and was not even given a thank you…NOT that it’s the reason he did it, but it really shook him up(and he did mouth to mouth with no mask…I mean it was TENSE)…I really hope they do give credit to the Good Samaritan.

  5. what a brave man.
    what a life changing thing to see.

  6. Kay Weaver

    I’m hoping you find out the name of the good Samaritan. I’m glad you were able to communicate above the train about the need to check out the one calling for help. I hope you were able to sleep since you didn’t do so well the night before.
    Your chair pictures are great! At first I thought them comical but they are so unique that they are eye-catching. You really got some good family shots. I think they will be pleased.

  7. Just came here from myballard, what an amazing story – I can’t imagine what that must’ve been like for everyone on the beach!
    I hope you’re able to find out the name of the paddle surfer.

  8. Jessica

    You are one of the heroes of this story, too. If you hadn’t encouraged those people to call 911 or convinced the paddle surfer to go back out to the buoy to look, the rescued man might still be out there.

  9. Anonymous

    You did a great job with the photos considering the lighting challenge! Thanks for posting!
    I didn’t go down to Golden Gardens last night because I knew there would be enough chaos already, but I listened to the incident from the very beginning on my scanner. It’s really interesting to read your first hand account – it’s like hearing the other side of the 911 call.
    At one point fire thought it was a false alarm and told incoming units to reduce the response to “code yellow.” At that point there were already quite a number of emergency vehicles on the scene, so I don’t think it actually hurt anything. Then they heard about the paddle surfer and his passenger and it was quickly bumped back up to “code red.”
    I heard the conversation between the medics transporting the swimmer to the “Medic One Doctor” at Harborview. That was how I heard that the swimmer was inebriated and hypothermic. They also warned the doctor that another patient might be coming. Sadly, it sounds like he never made it to shore.
    The device that the police and Coast Guard were using to look for the swimmers is actually a “Thermal Imager.” They seem to work really well and are used by the fire department to locate humans and hot spots in house fires. They had something like 4 of the things in use last night.
    Thanks again for writing such a complete account of what happened. I would guess that you’re going to be telling this story a lot in the coming days. People need to talk about things like this. It will help you process it.
    Take care,
    – Silver

  10. John Lindblom

    Hello Ms. Brown,
    I was there on the beach as well, and spoke with you after you had sent the paddle boarder out (I was with a friend, a Chinese woman). Thank God you were there and acted. You also played a critical role in saving one man’s life. The survivor also owes you a huge debt of gratitude.
    I’m so glad the man made the phone call, at your urging. Make sure your son someday hears that his mom is a hero. God bless you.

  11. Leslie

    Thank you for taking the step to investigate, urging the people with a cell phone to place the 911 call and going further by calling out to the paddle surfer. Your alert concern saved a life. You (yourself, the family with the cell phone and the paddle surfer) should all be commended for your actions. If you ever come to a crisis in your life and feel self doubt, remember this and know that you have already made a real difference in the world – something you can (and probably will) do again. And thank you for sharing your experience through your blog.

  12. I swim at Golden Gardens two or three times a week, in the early mornings. I wear a wet suit, unless I’m just diving in with the dog. I’m a middle aged masters swimmer, really not very fast. But I have swum Alcatraz, so I figure I’m not a novice. Since no one my speed wants to join me, I swim alone. My course is just laps between the fishing pier on the south and the point at the north. I stay within 25 yards of the shore. I have always wanted to swim to the buoy, but I figured there would be current out there. Just looking at the land masses and the shape of the beach, I wouldn’t be surprised if two currents converge there. And they wouldn’t be headed for shore. In other words, I wouldn’t try to swim to that buoy without an escort boat. If its less than a 2 mph current, I could do it, but it would be a hard sprint coming back. If its a 3 mph current, a collegiate or fast high school swimmer could do it. But without at least a paddleboarder beside them, they shouldn’t. I’ll bet even Lynne Cox would think twice about it.