Coast Guard rescues Port Angeles middle school students from Lake Crescent camp

The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office reported that all the kids were expected to be transported to safety by 10 p.m.

LAKE CRESCENT — Students from Stevens Middle School in Port Angeles on Friday got to take a ride on a U.S. Coast Guard vessel, something not initially scheduled as part of their routine field trip to Camp David Jr. on Lake Crescent.

The group consisted of 7th and 8th-graders, said Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.

Coast Guard personnel in a quick response boat, aided by deputies from the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, were called to the area at about 2:30 p.m. Friday afternoon after about 40 students and five chaperones were stranded at the camp when trees fell on Camp David Junior Road — the only road connecting the camp to U.S. Highway 101 — King said.

“The Camp David Junior Road is impassable due to trees being down,” King said.

Additionally, “we had a complete loss of power on the West End, and that included Camp David.”

With the amount of trees downed on the road, “crews would not be able to clear them to get to the [stranded party] until mid-morning or even midday” Saturday, King said.

“With that amount of kids there, and the fact that emergency services could [only] get to them by boat, the decision was made to go out there and get them and boat them over before we get that major storm coming in” Saturday.

As of 6:30 p.m. Friday, boat crews were in the process of retrieving the stranded students and chaperones, with one load already having been transported from Camp David Jr. on the northern shore of Lake Crescent to the Storm King Ranger Station on the southern shore.

“We have one boat on the water that is a Coast Guard boat with a cabin, and then we have our Sheriff’s boat that is standing by as a safety boat in the event that something were to happen … with the primary boat,” King said.

The Coast Guard boat “is one of their quick response boats,” King said.

“It is one of the boats that is mobile, that they can trailer.”

The dimensions of the boat were unknown Friday.

The Coast Guard boat has a max capacity of eight, King said, so multiple trips are required to transport all the students and chaperones. The operation was expected to be completed by 10 p.m. Friday, he said.

“We are boating them across in groups of eight, so we figure it will take us five trips from the Barnes Point at the Ranger Station there and over to Camp David and back.”

With only minor wind chop on the water during the transportation process, “conditions are pretty darn good,” King said.

“Given the storm, we are doing OK. We have navigable waters.”

No injuries or medical emergencies were reported.

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Features Editor Chris McDaniel can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56650, or at cmcdaniel@peninsuladailynews.com.

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