Troopers honored for lifesaving actions on Columbia

Three Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers were honored Friday for rescuing a fishing party after their boat capsized in the Columbia River last spring.

OSP Superintendent Ronald Ruecker arrived at the Hood River County Courthouse on Sept. 28 to present a special award to OSP Sergeant Julie Wilcox and two OSP Fish and Wildlife officers, David Anderson and Craig Gunderson.

"The swift and professional action by these three officers substantially contributed to saving the lives of these three men," said Lieutenant Michael Davidson, station commander at the OSP headquarters in The Dalles

Wilcox, Anderson and Gunderson were given the Harold R. Berg Lifesaving Award, a top OSP honor. The award was established in memory of the lieutenant who was washed out to sea in 1975 while searching a cave at Cape Lookout State Park to find a lost boy scout. It is intended to recognize the contributions of OSP officers who have distinguished themselves by performing or reacting to a situation in a positive and professional manner which saves lives or prevents serious injury from occurring.

On the morning of March 6, a 9-1-1 emergency call was placed by Patricia Combs, a distraught fisherman's wife. She reported from the shoreline that her husband, Edward Combs, 44, and two friends, Anthony Catron, 18, and Billy Patton, 22, had just capsized their small boat in the choppy, icy waters of the Columbia about 10 miles west of Hood River.

Wilcox, who was on patrol in the area, overhead the radio dispatch and sped to the scene after calling for aid from Anderson and Gunderson, who had just been preparing to take off on a regular patrol of the river from the Hood River marina.

When Wilcox arrived at the location where Patricia Combs was waiting, she observed that the three men were not wearing life vests and were clinging to the overturned boat about 50 yards off shore. Since they had already been in the 41-degree water for about 20 minutes, Wilcox advised ambulance personnel, who were already enroute, that the trio would most likely be suffering from hypothermia.

In fact, Catron registered a core temperature reading of just 78 degrees when he was pulled from the water about 20 minutes later by Anderson and Gunderson. All three men recovered from the incident which reportedly occurred when they took off in the small craft, which was loaded with extra clothing and equipment, to fish for sturgeon. However, they were unable to navigate the heavy swells created by wind gusts of between 15-20 knots.

Wilcox is a 14-year veteran of the OSP currently assigned to The Dalles office. Anderson has been assigned to the Fish & Wildlife Division out of Hood River since joining the OSP four-and-one-half years ago. Gunderson had been an OSP trooper for two-and-a-half years and currently works out of The Dalles office.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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