Supervisors honor Big Pine rescuers

From left, back, Inyo County supervisors Jeff Griffiths, Jen Roeser, Matt Kingsley and Dan Totheroh honored Big Pine Fire Capt. Jason Morgan, left, foreground, and Big Pine resident Everett Holland for rescuing six people and a dog from Klondike Lake last month.

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed a proclamation honoring the heroic actions of Big Pine Fire Captain Jason Morgan and citizen Everett Holland who’s quick response saved the lives of six people and a dog after their kayaks capsized on Klondike Lake on May 15.

Fourth District Supervisor Jen Roeser, whose district includes Big Pine, said “I love, love, love this” about the proclamation, saying that recognizing “people who are doing every day things in life that make a difference to not only our citizens, but for our visitors, and saving lives,” through proclamations is one of her favorite jobs as a supervisor.

A call came through on the afternoon of May 15 for a group of people drowning and yelling for help near the middle of Klondike Lake. Big Pine Volunteer Fire Department Chief Damon Carrington headed for the scene and, knowing what would be required, called for additional resources to help. The rescue would require a boat, and the nearest boat county dispatch could find was a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power boat in Bishop.

Out on the lake, three kayaks had overturned. Two people on paddleboards attempted to save them and ended up in the water as well. A bystander on shore managed to swim out to the drowning people and helped them cling to the overturned kayaks, but the situation was dire. No one involved was wearing floatation devices.

When the Big Pine Volunteer Fire Department was called out, Morgan quickly hooked up his own boat to his personal vehicle and headed south to Klondike Lake.

Holland, according to the proclamation, followed Morgan to the lake, helped Morgan launch the boat and then dove into the water to secure a life vest on one of the victims  who was having a seizure, and guided the victim and another into the boat.  

Everyone was rescued – including the dog. At the time of the rescue, the LADWP boat from Bishop was just arriving and would have taken another 10 minutes or so to be launched.

The proclamation notes that first responders agree that the outcome on May 15 would have been tragic had it not been for Morgan’s and Holland’s quick response.

“The Inyo County Board of Supervisors recognizes, with respect and gratitude, the heroic actions and selfless courage of Capt. Jason Morgan and Everett Holland in the act of saving the lives of several individuals in danger of drowning, which they did without hesitation and with their own welfare at risk.”

Roeser on Tuesday pointed out how May 15 through May 21 is National Emergency Medical Services Week and yet none of the county’s first responders wanted to nominate themselves for recognition.

“This is pretty typical of the selfless actions of so many people who volunteer and do so much for our community,” Roeser said.

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