Ten people safe after near drowning incident near Huntley Park

CURRY COUNTY, Ore. – Five students, two teachers, and three law enforcement officers are safe after a near drowning incident near Huntley Park last week.

It happened while students and teachers from California’s Surprise Valley School were on a seventh and eighth grade trip.

According to the Curry County Sheriff’s Office, dispatch received a report that several people were in the water possibly drowning in the Rogue River about six miles east of Gold Beach.

The call came in on May 22 just before 3:30 p.m.

Upon arrival, first responders found a total of seven people either in the water or clinging to rocks on the opposite side of the river. Two of them were teachers, the other five were students. Police say the people hanging on the rocks were calling for help saying they couldn’t hang on any longer.

Two officers and a deputy attempted to swim across the river to help. At that point, two of the people struggling along with a police officer and a deputy were swept down river.

While in the sheriff’s patrol boat, police spotted three people in the water in front of Tu Tu Tun Lodge, which is almost a mile downstream from Huntley Park. Two of them were attempting to float on their backs while the third was struggling to stay above water. Police say all three were in distress, but they decided to provide aid to the third person, later identified as a Gold Beach police officer, who kept disappearing under the water’s surface.

Police were able to pull the GBPD officer to safety and also circle back around to rescue the other two people, one was a teacher and one was a student, both female.

During this time, a private guided fishing boat who observed the sheriff’s patrol boat pass by, assisted by locating the other officer and deputy and pulling them to safety. The operator of the boat, Sam Waller was also able to help three others who were still clinging to the rocks near Huntley Park. The fourth person on the rocks was rescued by police.

All people were transported back to shore to be checked and treated for any injuries. One student was air flighted to a hospital, while seven other individuals were transported by ambulance to the local hospital. All were treated for hypothermia.

The Curry County Sheriff’s Office is reminding the community that “the Rogue River is still flowing very high and is still very cold. The temperature of the water varies from the 50 to low 60 degree temperatures. People do not realize that at these temperatures it only takes a very short time for hypothermia to set in.”

Gold Beach Police, Gold Beach Fire, Cal-Or Ambulance, Reach Helicopter, Port Orford Police, and Sam Waller assisted the county sheriff’s office with the rescue.

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