The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ survey boat Graham capsized while working in the navigation channel in the mouth of the Chetco
River in Brookings, Oregon, on April 25.
Marshall “Dean” Tildon and Wilbur “Todd” Stringer were completing the final line of a routine survey of the channel when the boat capsized.
The boat was about 100 yards offshore when the accident happened. Stringer was able to exit through a hatch, but Tildon was not able to do so. The two closed the hatch to prevent water from entering the boat, and Stringer swam to shore.
Bystanders called the Coast Guard, and then gathered onshore to help pull the boat in.
The U.S. Coast Guard 13th District PA Detachment Astoria reported that an underway Coast Guard boat crew aboard a 47-foot MotorLife Boat from Station Chetco River received the initial call for help at 11:06 a.m., from a good Samaritan who saw the 26-foot vessel capsize. Another Coast Guard boat crew aboard a 29-foot Response Boat-Small II arrived on scene alongside the capsized vessel at 11:14 a.m. and reported that one of the passengers had escaped the boat and swum to shore, but the other person was unaccounted for.
Meanwhile, a Coast Guard beach crew, dressed in dry suits, walked a line out 50 feet to the overturned vessel, but the line broke when it
was pulled by rescuers and a winch. During the second attempt, a thicker line was walked out to the boat, and the port’s tractor was able to
pull the boat about 30 feet closer to shore where responders where able to release Tildon.
The sea conditions on scene included two to-four-foot seas and four-foot breaks.
Both crew members were evaluated at Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach and released.
Based on initial reports, the boat didn’t leak any fuel or oil into the water.
Jeffrey Henon, Portland District public affairs officer for the navigation mission, said “local responders and good Samaritans made this incident positive in the end.”