Fisherman, Good Samaritans share story of life-saving river rescue

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ElisaHahnK5

KING5.com

Posted on January 23, 2013 at 7:44 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 23 at 8:42 PM

On Wednesday, for the first time since he was pulled from the Skagit river, Don Childs got a chance to thank his rescuers in person.

The 64-year-old insurance salesman was fishing for steelhead on January 3 when his boat hit a snag.

"The stern of the boat hit one of the logs, and as soon as it hit it, it swamped it," said Childs.

Childs went into the river, pinned against a log jam in an area known as Dead Man's Slough. The water was about 50 degrees.

"I was just hoping that someone saw me and they did fortunately," said Childs. "I knew it was hang on until they got there."

Sedro-Woolley patrol officer Rhonda Lasley heard the call. The intern riding with her that day, Nicole Vojkovich, lives by the river.

"I looked at Nicole and said, 'Call your dad. See if he can find someone with a boat, we don't have much time,'" said Lasley.

Swooping in with his boat came fisherman Bruce Engle, a former member of search and rescue.

"When he came in it was almost like an airplane landing," remembers Lasley. "He came in and we said, 'What do you need?'"

Soon the three of them were heading up stream, scanning the surface of the water.

"There was a stick that was flopping in the water that I couldn't remember seeing before," said Engle. "So I focused on it and realized that stick had fingers."

By the time they got Childs out of the water his body temperature was 94 degrees. Just a few minutes more, and doctors tell him it could have been fatal.

"When I looked up, that's what I saw," said Childs, pointing to Lasley and Vojkovich. "Just two angelic faces."

But on that day, heaven could wait. Engle says anyone who fishes on the Skagit river knows how lucky Childs is.

"Once it gets a hold of something very seldom does it give it back up," said Engle. "To get Don Childs back alive, it's an incredible thing.

The Sedro-Woolley Police Department will award the three rescuers with medals of valor Wednesday night.

 

 

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