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Surfer rescued

AlaskaDigest

Posted: Monday, January 06, 2003

KETCHIKAN - The Coast Guard rescued a Ketchikan man from swift currents off Rotary Beach, about a mile from Ketchikan, on Sunday afternoon.

Ross Avila was surfing off the beach when he was overwhelmed by the current and swept from the area. When Avila was unable to return to shore a friend contacted the Coast Guard at 3:30 p.m.

Coast Guard Station Ketchikan responded with a 47-foot motor lifeboat and a four-person crew. The rescue crew arrived on scene 10 minutes later, but could not see Avila.

"The biggest factor in the case was the weather and the poor visibility," said Eric Smith, the station's commanding officer. "There was a storm warning in effect, 35 knot winds gusting to 50."

After three or four minutes Avila bobbed into view, sitting on his board in only a wetsuit. The crew of the motor lifeboat had Avila onboard a few minutes later and began treating him for mild hypothermia as the boat sped back to the station.

Upon arrival Avila was met by emergency medical personnel. He was determined to be in good condition and was released.

"We don't get many calls about surfers," said Smith.



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