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March 25, 2014 at 1:14 PM

NAS Whidbey Island personnel aid in rescue

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Search-and-rescue personnel from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island combing through the debris on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island)

Search-and-rescue personnel from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island was called in to assist in the rescue of survivors from the Oso mudslide on Saturday, according to the base’s public affairs office.

“I was awestruck by the destruction and even more so when we found out how many houses were destroyed,” said search-and-rescue (SAR) helicopter co-pilot Lt. Robert Merin. “It was great being able to help the people that we did, but it was hard knowing that there were others we couldn’t get to.”

Working in the air and on the ground, Whidbey Island SAR personnel in a MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter pulled several victims from the mudslide, including a woman who had been trapped under 15 feet of debris for more than five hours, according to a news release.

“Due to the ground conditions, we knew we couldn’t land,” said Lt. Cmdr. David Waner, the mission commander. “We deployed Chief (Richard) Andraschko and Petty Officer (Brent) McIntyre via hoist over what looked to be the remains of the roof of one house which turned out to be two houses, a boat and a car.”

While Andraschko and McIntyre began digging out the victims from beneath the house, the two Whidbey Island pilots and crew chief found another victim waving them down.

“We lowered a rescue basket to extract him when he told us there were two other more seriously injured people down below,” Waner said. “Therefore, we lowered him back down to assist in retrieving the other victims.”

After flying those victims to a staging area where they were transported for medical assistance, the Whidbey Island crew returned to the first house where Andraschko and McIntyre were rescuing the first victim, a man with serious injuries. The crew flew the man to Skagit Valley Hospital.

Comments | More in General news, The Blotter | Topics: Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Oso mudslide, U.S. Navy


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