At approximately 11:15 am Sunday, May 6th, the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a canoe that had capsized in the Columbia River, just off the Stevenson, WA shore. Stevenson residents Les Hastings, 73 and his daughter Melissa Pearce, 32 encountered very rough conditions with high winds, and their canoe capsized. Skamania County Sheriff’s Office deputies, Washington Wildlife agents, the Skamania County Dive Team, and Skamania County EMS personnel responded to the scene.
Deputy Mike Hepner contacted a boat in the area belonging to Ron Shoemaker of Washougal. They were able to get to the capsized canoe, but due to the rough water and high winds, were unable to get Hastings and Pearce aboard. Using their boat, they were able to push the canoe close enough to shore for rescuers to pull Pearce and Hastings from the frigid waters. Both suffered from hypothermia, were warmed by Skamania County EMS, and released. Pearce and Hastings were both wearing personal flotation devices.
“We were very fortunate today that this was not more serious” said Sergeant Arne Gonser. “The water temperature continues to be very cold this time of year and hypothermia can set in very quickly.”
“The quick actions of Deputy Hepner and Mr Shoemaker, the other responders, and the fact that both Pearce and Hastings were wearing life jackets allowed us to have a positive outcome from this event,” said Undersheriff Dave Cox. “We continue to encourage our citizens to wear their personal flotation devices whenever they are recreating on our waterways. On behalf of our community, our thanks go out to all involved with this rescue.
Skamania County Sheriff’s Office