After a fishing boat runs aground, it’s up to one man to save the passengers onboard.
Darrin Harrity had been swimming his entire life. The young man usually spent close to 7 hours a day neck deep in water. As long as Harrity could remember it was his dream to join the United States National Coast Guard. At 19, he became a 2nd class officer as a helicopter rescue swimmer. The young man would astonish everyone after singlehandedly saving the lives of four stranded fisherman.
One Tuesday morning off the coast of Cape Blanco, Oregon, the Coast Guard received an emergency call for help. A 52-ft. fishing boat had struck rocks in shallow shores and was quickly taking on water. Aboard the vessel were 4 men ready to abandon ship.
The Coast Guard responded immediately and dispatched a chopper to the scene. The rescue team followed safety protocol and lowered Harrity down with a hoist planning to pull up each fisherman one by one.
Then their rescue plan took a turn for the worse. A ‘mechanical failure’ jammed the reel attached to the hoist. The 2nd Class officer had no way to get the drowning fisherman safely in the chopper.
“You’re going to be doing a lot of swimming tonight,” Harrity heard the pilot mumble.
The man did exactly that. The task ahead of him wasn’t easy, to say the least. The rough and choppy waters were already producing 5-foot waves. As a world class swimmer, Harrity wasn’t worried. After jumping feet first into the ocean, he swam the 250 yard journey to the four fisherman in a lifeboat.
After convincing the first man to leave, Harrity swam the same 250 yard stretch back to the chopper. The rescue swimmer powered through the waves with only one arm, the other firmly grasping the fisherman. One down, three to go. The heroic young man went back and forth, back and forth, and back and forth completing an additional 3 roundtrips.
He braved the dangerous waters to safely deliver each and every man to the chopper. In total, Harrity swam a distance equal to a mile. Only then did he take time to rest.
The rescue swimmer’s strength and dedication to his job were labeled “monumental” and “heroic” by the National Coast Guard. To the young swimmer, it wasn’t nearly that impressive.
“It was just me and my muscles and that’s it,” Harrity stated.
Watch the suspenseful footage below as Harrity bravely saves the fishermen’s lives.