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Contact: Roxanne Dey, (702) 293-8947
In an awards ceremony to be held May 4, 2006, at the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) headquarters in Washington, D.C., Lake Mead NRA Ranger Ryan Regnell will be among those honored for his actions that helped save eight lives.
Valor awards are presented to DOI employees who have demonstrated unusual courage involving a high degree of personal risk in the face of danger. Recipients receive a special certificate and citation signed by the Secretary of Interior and an engraved gold Valor Award medal.
On July 25, 2003 at about 11 a.m. a severe thunderstorm warning was in effect for the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Regnell was on boat patrol in the Boulder Basin of Lake Mead when 50-mile-per-hour winds and four-to-six-foot waves formed, catching many boaters by surprise. He observed a boat about mid-basin that appeared to be in trouble. Through heavy waves and high winds, Regnell headed out to the boat.
When he arrived he found an open bow low-profile boat. The boat had three adults, three children, and two infants. The vessel was taking in a lot of water and in danger of sinking. At this point, the vessel engine died. Regnell recognized the seriousness of the situation, attached a tow line to the vessel and instructed the rest of the occupants to all put on life jackets. Regnell, at great personal risk, was able to turn the troubled vessel into the wind helping to keep it afloat and keeping the occupants inside the vessel.
Regnell began to tow the vessel to Lake Mead Marina and called for back up from Nevada Division of Wildlife Wardens. With the heavy load on his tow line, and the additional strain from the wave action, the line snapped. Regnell instructed the NDOW Wardens Karen Welden and Fred Esparza to pull alongside the troubled vessel and begin removing passengers. They were able to fit four of the visitors in their boat and Regnell took three. Regnell then asked the owner of the vessel to tie off another tow line and again tried to save the vessel and tow it back to the marina. About ¼ mile away from Lake Mead Marina, under the heavy strain of the weather and wave action, the tow line broke a second time. The NDOW Wardens were able to secure their line to the vessel and bring the vessel to the launch ramp at Lake Mead Marina.
Because of Ranger Regnell’s expertise, courage, skill, and teamwork, all eight occupants of the vessel were safely delivered to shore. For his heroic actions, courage and professionalism, Ryan Regnell is granted the Valor Award of the Department of the Interior. Wardens Welden and Esparza were also recognized with Valor Awards.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a unit of the National Park Service.