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.
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.
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.
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