By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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Three Clallam County Fire District No. 4 personnel and a good Samaritan waded through waist-deep rising tides just north of the mouth of Salt Creek on Tuesday afternoon to carry the boy back to shore, said paramedic Greg Waters, District No. 4 medical officer.
“The incoming tide was coming pretty quickly,” Waters said.
Five staff members of District No. 4, which covers the Joyce area, ultimately came to the scene, he said.
The boy, who was unidentified, had fallen from a tree onto the jagged rocks of the island while on an outing with a church group from Port Angeles.
“Evidently, he was playing on a tree and lost his grip and fell 30 feet,” Waters said.
Medics were called to the beach at 12:57 p.m.
The boy was airlifted to Harborview from Olympic Medical Center, Waters said, and remained in the pediatric intensive care unit Wednesday.
Vashina Donnell, a firefighter and emergency medical technician, was the first to arrive, Fire Chief Alex Baker said.
“When [Donnell] got there, [she was] wading through water just over knee-deep and rising,” Baker said.
The stretcher had to be held at shoulder level to keep it out of the water as he was carried back to the beach, Waters said.
The boy was found conscious and talking, Waters said; he was shivering and had an obvious fracture of the lower leg bones just above the right ankle in addition to minor cuts and abrasions.
OMC personnel found that he also had a partially collapsed lung, Waters said.
The island is surrounded by water except during very low tide, Baker said.
The tide moves quickly and is both very high and very low at the beach off Crescent Bay.
Medics and members of the public carried medic supplies and a portable stretcher at least a quarter-mile to the boy from the Salt Creek campground parking lot off Crescent Beach Road, Waters said.
Baker said the responding medics made quick decisions “that were critical to saving this boy's life” by moving him from the island before the tide completely came in.
Assistant Chief Mike Hazelett was in charge of the scene, Baker added.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.