Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Boater, Bruce Gott, rescued from the Clearwater River

By Alannah Allbrett

Thursday, February 10, Kevin Korbel, his wife Christine, and their 17 year old son Daniel were heading home from Lewiston. Kevin said, as they rounded a corner near the boat ramp (below Hog Meadows), they noticed a boat turned toward the boat launch near Clearwater Ridge Development. “The boat made a run toward the shore,” Kevin said, which they thought was very strange. “As we watched, the boat slammed into the shoreline and went into the rocks.” Kevin turned the car into the boat ramp to investigate. Daniel said he spotted a man in the river.

Bruce Gott, 57, of Lapwai was the operator of the boat. He had been trying to turn the boat to go back to the boat ramp, when it skidded out of control.

Christine Korbel called 911, while Kevin and Daniel ran along the shore. Kevin told his son to find a long piece of wood.

Kevin ran through underbrush, rocks, and poison ivy and kept shouting out encouragement to Gott, telling him he was close to the shore – to “keep paddling.” Kevin said Gott was not fighting the current, but he was tiring out and still in pretty deep water. “There was a pretty deep drop-off there,” said Kevin. He waded out as far as he was able and, with the pole Danny found, and pulled Gott out of the river.

By this time Daniel was bleeding pretty badly from dental surgery he had just had. But he had the forethought to bring a blanket down with him. They put Kevin’s coat and the blanket on the man, and rubbed his hands and arms to warm him up. Another motorist came to help, and The Nez Perce Sheriffs showed up with a rescue boat in tow and took Gott with them.

Kevin, with a bad case of poison ivy and scrapes and bruises, gives a lot of credit for the rescue to his son, an Eagle Scout and senior at Orofino High School. “Danny was bleeding, in pain, and kind of shaky, yet he helped with the rescue. If Danny had not spotted the man in the water the outcome might have been very different,” said his father.

Kevin Korbel urges everyone to be prepared when driving along the Clearwater. “We learned that we should carry a throw-bag with us for just this kind of emergency. I was glad to have been able to help just as any other passerby would have,” said Kevin.

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