Rescuer rappels down Fort Worden cliff to get dog
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Crystal Craig
A crew member from Naval Magazine Indian Island rappels with Jake the black Laborador retriever on Wednesday.

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND –– A 90-pound black Lab named Jake is unhurt after stumbling halfway down a 200-foot cliff at the north end of Fort Worden State Park.

Rescue crews from East Jefferson Fire-Rescue, Port Ludlow Fire and Rescue and Naval Magazine Indian Island spent about two hours Wednesday evening bringing the Labrador retriever to safety on the shoreline below.

Jeff Passerotti, father of Jake's owner, Sara Passerotti, reported Thursday that Jake was shaken but not seriously injured from the ordeal.

“[Sara] told me he's tired and a little bit shaken up, but he's fine,” Jeff Passerotti said in a phone interview from his Eugene, Ore., restaurant.

A crew member from Naval Magazine Indian Island rappelled some 125 feet down to Jake, then strapped him into a harness and continued rappelling 75 more feet down to the beach, said Bill Beezley, spokesman for East Jefferson Fire-Rescue.

Jake was dehydrated when he was finally recovered and lapped up a steady stream of water when reunited with his owner, Beezley said.

Sara Passerotti told rescue crews that Jake misstepped while on a walk with her and two friends near the fort's Battery Tolles.

The dog slipped about 10 feet down, then tumbled another 125 feet down the bluff, stopping at a grassy outcropping.

Beezley said one of Sara Passerotti's friends tried to descend the bluff to rescue Jake but quickly realized it was too steep.

The three then walked west down to North Beach County Park and hiked back up the beach until they could see the dog from below.

Beezley said the three spent about an hour trying to rescue Jake before calling emergency crews at 5:22 p.m.

East Jefferson Fire-Rescue firefighters were the first to respond to the call for help but realized they would need specially trained assistance, Beezley said.

They then called in rescue units from Port Ludlow and Naval Magazine Indian Island, crews that Beezley said regularly train for rescue rappel work.

“They drill in that technical rescue all the time,” Beezley said.

“They have lots of experience.”

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at

Last modified: March 28. 2013 5:47PM
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