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December 22, 2014 at 8:49 AM

Fishing crew receives Carnegie Hero award for sea rescue

Members of a Seattle-based fishing crew have been awarded the Carnegie Hero medal for their part in a 2012 Alaska sea rescue.

Gregory Plancich and Daniel Hardwick, both of Vashon, Wayne Kitt, of Loon Lake, and Jim Fultz, of Siletz, Ore., were among 19 honored for bravery with awards announced Monday by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.

A Poulsbo man, James Kocker, also received the award for saving a motorist from drowning last year.

Plancich and his fellow fishing crewmen were honored for saving the crew of a capsized boat from frigid waters nearly three ago.

According to the award citation, on Jan. 25, 2012, a 67-foot fishing vessel, the Heritage, became disabled in a severe storm while crossing Alitak Bay off Kodiak Island. The ship’s engine compartment flooded, and the vessel capsized and sank, sending its seven-person crew into frigid waters four miles from the closest shore. Five members of the crew were able to board a life raft.

Hearing a radio distress call, Plancich, captain of the 101-foot commercial fishing vessel Tuxedni, alerted his crew. Despite darkness and winds gusting up to 75 mph, the Tuxedni set out to help. Cruising for an hour to the last known location of the Heritage, Plancich’s crew braved waves crashing over the deck and ice accumulating on the boat. They spotted the life raft and were able to pull the men aboard.

Kocker’s Carnegie medal was awarded for a 2013 incident in which he saved a motorist from drowning after his car plunged into a pond in Ellensburg. The other man was knocked unconscious as his sedan began to sink in the muddy water 50 feet from shore. Aided by a state trooper, Kocker opened the driver’s door, went underwater and freed the man from his seat belt, pulling him to shore.

The Carnegie awards have honored 84 people for bravery in 2014. The awards include unspecified cash grants, according to the foundation’s news release.

Comments | More in General news | Topics: Carnegie heroes, Carnegie Medal, fishing rescue

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