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Citizen Heroes Save Lives of Kayakers at Anacapa Island

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Date: December 10, 2003
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

Today Channel Islands National Park Superintendent recognizes five heroic park visitors for their courageous efforts in saving the lives of two distressed kayakers at Anacapa Island on the evening August 19, 2003. The rescuers, Anne Demma, Mark Duvall, and Henry Shiu, residents of Davis, California, and Carrie and Mark Lane of Carmichael, California, will receive the National Park Service “Citizen Search and Rescue Award” today at 3:00 during a presentation at the UC Davis campus.

This prestigious award recognizes the invaluable contributions citizens make in saving the lives of park visitors. Superintendent Galipeau stated, “These five rescuers were incredible. They were extremely well equipped and demonstrated a highly professional level of skill and expertise in carrying out this rescue.”

The team of citizen rescuers was visiting Anacapa Island on a kayak camping trip this past August when they observed a second party of two kayakers paddling offshore in moderate wind and sea conditions. The rescue team took it upon themselves to keep an eye on the two kayakers as the ocean conditions deteriorated. Before sunset they observed that the two kayakers had capsized and were struggling to reach the island. Concerned that these kayakers were ill equipped in the cold waters and fearful that they were unable to make it back on their own, the team of five responded.

Skillfully, they devised and carried out a rescue plan. Using their expertise and rescue training, John Lane and Henry Shiu launched their kayaks, fully equipped with wet suits, life jackets, emergency strobes, and marine radios. Fellow rescuers Carrie Lane, Anne Demma, and Mark Duvall immediately notified the U.S. Coast Guard and an island maintenance employee. As daylight diminished, they marked the Landing Cove with additional lights. Using their own binoculars and radios, the land-based rescuers vigilantly watched and communicated with Lane and Shiu as they reached the distressed kayakers. One of two kayakers in distress, Cheryl Hartley of Anaheim, California, was clinging to the side of her vessel as she drifted out to sea. Lane paddled out to Hartley and stabilized her on his kayak. Lane used his marine radio to direct the U.S. Coast Guard vessel to their location two miles east of the island. Henry Shiu was able to tow the other exhausted kayaker, Robert Schiever of Long Beach, California, back to the Landing Cove. The rescued kayakers were transported by the U.S. Coast Guard and treated for mild hypothermia.

The National Park Service is pleased to recognize these five fine citizens for their heroic actions that resulted in saving the lives of two park visitors.

Did You Know?

Brown pelican on nest

The Channel Islands are home to the largest breeding colonies of seabirds in southern California.