Mary Richardson: A big thanks for recent water rescue
I would like to thank the Summit County Sheriff’s Water Rescue Groups, Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue and Denver Water security for their assistance June 29. It was one of those picture-perfect afternoons with winds forecast SSE 5-10 mph. I was looking forward to getting my sailboard out on the lake and to make some early season equipment adjustments with light winds and an easy beam reach off the Dillon shore. Light winds were blowing from Keystone toward the dam. Several times I had to paddle into shore because the winds were so light. There were a few dark clouds to the north over the tunnel but appeared to be moving toward Denver. In general, it was one of those unexciting afternoons on the lake that, without warning, turned serious.
I was on a beam reach in the middle of the lake heading toward Frisco when white caps started to churn the surface. White caps are my indicator to think about heading for shore. Within no time, the wind cranked up to 30 knots and small waves were forming. Instead of fighting the conditions, I put down the sail and oriented the board to minimize being dragged toward the dam. I sat on the board for 20 minutes and then the inevitable happened: I was pushed against the orange buoys. Not wanting to breach the security buoys, I decided to hang onto the metal cable between the buoys. Not a great idea given the strengthening winds and increasing waves. But the last thing I wanted to do was activate a security incident or worse yet, be in the newspaper. After all, I just needed to wait out the wind. The waves were relentless and I tried my best to not get pinched between the steel cable and sailboard. Thank heaven I was a wearing a wet suit, which protected me from getting cut.
As I watched the traffic on the Dam Road, I thought I must look ridiculous to passing motorists. Finally I see a fire truck on the Dam Road going very slowly with lights flashing. I was secretly hoping they were coming for me; the wind just wasn’t letting up. Then the truck continued to the far side of the Dam Road and I assumed that there was probably a bicycle accident. Then I see the fire truck turn around and come back along the Dam Road and stop. I can’t believe it – they are coming to help me. Now, I wonder what I can do to help them. It’s a very steep and rocky shoreline below the bike path and I didn’t want to put the firemen at risk.
I then turned around to look back toward Keystone and, to my surprise, here comes the sheriff’s boat out of Frisco with two rescue staff. The orange life ring which was expertly tossed in my direction was a welcome relief. The waves at this point were kicking up to 4 feet and swells were washing over the back of the boat. This was not going to be an easy maneuver for the sheriff’s two-man team. But with incredible swiftness they pulled me to the boat, recovered my equipment, and we were on our way to Dillon in no time. As a Dillon property owner since 1987, I was impressed to see our tax dollars invested in quality people and equipment.
Upon arriving on shore, I met the rest of the teams who all responded to the 911 call, many who are Summit County Rescue volunteers funded by donations and grants. I had no idea that more than 70 pagers were going off around the county. This story had a happy outcome and I am forever grateful for the proficient rescue response and team work.
I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone to wear lifejackets, be ever mindful of the wind direction and your capability, and stay with the boat if it goes down. There’s a lot we can do to make the water rescue team’s job easier and always successful. Thanks again.
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