TOKELAND — A man and woman sport fishing for crab in Willapa Bay barely escaped alive Friday when their 12-foot skiff capsized after becoming entangled in their own crab line.
According to Officer Dan Chadwick of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, it was only heroic intervention by a six-man Goose Point Oyster crew led by Francisco Meliton that kept the 71-year-old man and 59-year-old woman from drowning.
Meliton and his crewmen were done with work and about to head back to port when Meliton noticed something shiny about a quarter-mile away, Chadwick said. He decided to check it out and they found the couple huddled on a small sandspit about 100 yards from where their boat had flipped over. This was sometime before 11:40 a.m. Friday, when the first report came in to authorities.
Both victims, who have not yet been identified, were hauled into the oyster boat even as the rising tide was beginning to fully submerge the spit. The man was extremely hypothermic, even his nose having turned blue, Chadwick said.
The victims have been Life Flighted to Seattle’s Harborview Hospital for treatment.
Although it is a beautiful sunny day on Willapa Bay, a typical water temperature of only about 50 degrees this time of year can bring life-threatening hypothermia in as little as 30 to 60 minutes if someone is exhausted and in shock after making their way from a wreck. Death can occur in from one to three hours.
Additional details are pending.