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Quick Action By NPS Employee Saves Sinking Boat’s Passengers

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

National Park News

On the afternoon of August 9th, visitor use assistant Wayne Clark was on a personal fishing trip on a 26-foot fiberglass vessel with his wife and another couple. Just after noon, they decided to return home for the day. They were approximately a mile from Bartlett Cove when the boat’s operator noticed that the vessel was handling sluggishly, noted that the engine was riding low, and saw that they were taking on water over the stern. When he opened an inspection hatch on the deck, he saw that the bilge was rapidly filling with water. All hands attempted to bail out the vessel, but the bilge pump and their efforts could not keep up with the incoming water.  Clark then directed the operator to attempt to beach the boat and insured that everyone on board was wearing a lifejacket. They made attempts to hail nearby vessels and call the Bartlett Cove Visitor Information Station, but none of these attempts was successful.  About 75 yards from shore, the vessel's engine failed, the stern completely filled with water, and the vessel capsized. As the vessel was turning over, Clark was able to pull his wife and their female companion with him, thereby preventing them from being trapped under the boat. The male companion could not be located because he was still under the forward canopy and superstructure of the boat.  Clark began attempts to find him and made one dive under the vessel to recover him. Upon returning to the surface, he found that the missing person had resurfaced next to them. They began to swim to shore, but were hampered by currents and the initial onset of hypothermia. Luckily, a nearby boat was able to rescue all four people and bring them to Bartlett Cove, where the ranger staff treated them for exposure. The vessel is a total loss and was towed to the Bartlett Cove launch ramp area, where it was recovered by the owner.  Due to Wayne Clark's quick thinking and cool actions under great pressure, this event had a successful outcome. All passengers attribute their survival to him.  Clark is a retired Coast Guard rescue swimmer and one of the original swimmers who started the program. He has worked as a deck hand and boat operator for the park and teaches navigation, local weather, and tide chart reading for the annual DOIMOCC course in Glacier Bay.  



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