Rescuers in a Bristol Bay village on Thursday revived a dying man who stopped breathing after getting thrown from a raft into cold water, Alaska State Troopers said.
Wildlife Trooper Jason Ball and state public safety technician Shawn Olsen were in Egegik for commercial fisheries enforcement when they noticed a commotion about 1:30 p.m. Thursday on a beach near Coffee Point, troopers said. On the beach they found an unconscious man who wasn't breathing, troopers said. The man was later identified as 54-year-old Fallbrook, Calif., resident Jose Orendez.
Orendez and his adult son had been motoring to shore in a raft from their 32-foot fishing boat when the raft flipped, troopers said. Both were wearing flotation devices -- a major factor in their survival, troopers said -- and the son made it to shore. But Orendez was caught on a setnet running line for a time, and someone else brought him to shore, troopers said.
Ball started CPR while Olsen called for help, said Lt. Will Ellis with the wildlife troopers in King Salmon. Ellis landed in a helicopter during the resuscitation effort and spoke to the rescuers later.
"During the course of it, I know there was concern he wasn't going to pull through," Ellis said. "Jason was working hard and not seeing signs of life."
Ball continued alone, blowing air into Orendez's lungs and compressing his chest for about 15 minutes trying to get Orendez's heart and lungs to work, Ellis said. After another 10 minutes of CPR, with help from Dan Pulice, a state boat officer, Orendez started to take shallow breaths, the trooper lieutenant said.
"This was on a muddy beach and the guy was semi-hypothermic too," Ellis said. "They just kept working until they knew for sure that he was breathing on his own. Then they rolled him onto his side so he could start discharging the water in his lungs."
They drove Orendez, on a backboard, to the Egegik airstrip and he was flown to Naknek and stabilized at a clinic, troopers said. Orendez was weak and couldn't talk but his eyes were moving, Ellis said. An emergency medical plane flew the man to the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, troopers said.
A hospital spokeswoman said Orendez was in fair condition Friday and expected to recover.
Trooper Ball was away at a remote cabin Friday and unavailable for comment, Ellis said. Ellis said he was proud of Ball and everybody involved in the rescue.
"They did a fantastic job and I think they made the difference in whether this man lived or perished," Ellis said.
Reach Casey Grove at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4589.