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Calif. helicopter crew faces water, cliff rescues in one day

A Sonoma County paramedic was lowered to people clinging to the side of a capsized boat in the first rescue

By Alec Regimbal

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. — A total of six people were rescued by a helicopter across two separate events in the Point Reyes area on Sunday, according to law enforcement officials.

A helicopter unit from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to Tomales Bay on Sunday at 2:35 p.m. after receiving a report of a capsized boat. The helicopter unit, which had just finished a water rescue demonstration at the nearby Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival, arrived in the area just seven minutes after receiving the report, according to an Instagram post from the sheriff’s office.

The unit spotted the capsized boat in the middle of the bay with two people sitting on the overturned boat’s hull and two other people clinging to its sides. The helicopter unit then initiated a “long line rescue,” a maneuver that typically involves loading a stranded person into a harness attached to a long rope dangling from the craft, which then carries the stranded person to safety.

The sheriff’s office said that a paramedic from the helicopter unit sat with the boaters as the rest of the stranded individuals were rescued one by one. The four boaters were then flown to a nearby home where they were met by an ambulance from the Marin County Fire Department. Their condition as of Monday afternoon was unclear.

A video of the rescue included on the Instagram post shows the four boaters being rescued. One of those being airlifted from the water appears to tell the crewman that the group had been stranded in the bay for about 45 minutes.

At about 9 p.m. on Sunday evening , that same helicopter crew rescued two hikers who were trapped on cliffs near Alamere Falls. Anela Kopshever, a park ranger with Point Reyes National Seashore, told SFGATE in an email that the hikers texted 911 after being trapped on the cliffs because of the incoming high tide on the beach below. Kopshever said the helicopter crew flew the hikers, who showed signs of cold exposure but had not sustained any other serious injuries, back to the trailhead.

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