BROOKINGS, Ore. - A sheriff's deputy who swam out into the surf to help a 14-year-old boy caught in a rip current was in critical condition after 45 minutes in the water but is expected to recover, the Curry County Sheriff's Office said.
“He basically saved that boy’s life,” Sheriff John Bishop told the Curry Coastal Pilot newspaper.
Deputy Terry Brown responded to a report of a teen in the surf at Harris Beach who could not get shore just after 5:30 p.m. Monday.
Brown saw the boy was in imminent danger and took action, Sheriff Bishop said, stripping off his gear down to his pants and t-shirt.
Brown put a life vest on and had a rope attached to him so ground crews could pull him in, the sheriff said.
But upon reaching the teen, Brown had to release the rope and hang on to the boy to keep him from going under and drowning, Bishop said.
Other rescuers from the sheriff's office and the Coast Guard worked to reach Brown and the boy but had difficulty in the rough surf, the sheriff said.
Two rescue swimmers from the sheriff's office got their gear on and attempted repeatedly to reach the two, to no avail.
The Coast Guard launched a small boat but determined the surf was too rough to reach the pair.
Rescue swimmer Logan Couch managed to reach the deputy and teen after 45 minutes. Both were showing severe signs of hypothermia, the sheriff said.
Other rescuers were then able to connect ropes to the group and get them to shore.
Once on shore, rescuers determined Deputy Brown was in critical condition and slipping into unconscious.
The teen was determined to be hypothermic but medically not in as bad of shape, the sheriff's said.
Both patients were taken by air ambulance to Sutter Coast Hospital.
Brown arrived in the Emergency Room in critical condition, the sheriff said.
The teen arrived later, hypothermic but stable.
Both are expected to fully recover, the sheriff said.
Brown has been with the Curry County Sheriff's Office for about a year, the sheriff said. He's been in law enforcement for about 10 years.
The sheriff hailed the work of the rescue team, saying Brown saved the boy's life by keeping his head above water - and that the efforts of the other rescuers then saved both of them.