Cottonwood Cove Marina Employees Honored by National Park Service

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Date: May 9, 2006
Contact: Roxanne Dey, (702) 293-8947

At about 6 p.m. on June 26, 2005, a vessel (with five persons on board) collided at a high rate of speed with the Nevada shoreline. The accident occurred a few miles north of Cottonwood Cove Marina. The operator died from injuries before rescuers arrived. The NPS was notified, but the nearest Ranger was on a backcountry patrol in the El Dorado Canyon area. It is at least one hour away by vehicle. A request for assistance came across Marine Band 11.

Employees from Forever Resorts’ Cottonwood Cove Marina, immediately responded from Cottonwood by vessel, and were the first to arrive at the chaotic accident scene. The vessel was overturned on the shore and the sun was setting. The operator was crushed to death under his boat. Two individuals had been thrown into the water, one had managed to escape from underneath the boat, and a fifth was alive and trapped underneath the boat. The responders found the trapped victim, lifted the 21’ power boat, and extricated the victim. That victim was later transferred to emergency surgery where his leg was saved.

Throughout the remainder of the incident, the Cottonwood staff took charge and provided medical care, assisted with the transportation of the survivors, and also assisted with the salvage of the vessel.

"The general manager Tom Burnside and his staff demonstrated true courage and heroism. Tom never even sought any compensation for the services his employees provided. He and his staff just did the right thing. Their willingness and readiness to respond to emergencies are a benefit to the National Park Service and its visiting public. Their actions represent the best in a cooperative relationship," said Superintendent Dickinson.

The National Park Service Search and Rescue (SAR) pin was established in 2002 for the purpose of recognizing members of the general public who render direct assistance in a search and rescue incident. In March 2006, the Cottonwood staff (Bruce Reilly, Rex Forsgren, Jim Smith, Dennis Pambianco, Tom Burnside, Jack Kelley) was honored by Superintendent Dickinson.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a unit of the National Park Service.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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