Point No Point beach rescuers receive Coast Guard awards
September 23, 2011 · Updated 3:28 PM
POULSBO — The Coast Guard presented two prestigious awards for the beach rescue of two boys in July 2010 at Point No Point Beach, Friday at Kvelstad Pavilion in downtown Poulsbo.
Over a year ago, Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Heacox and Officer Barney McGinley were with many other families enjoying a warm beach day, when both were pulled into an unexpected rescue mission. Two boys, Garett Dobbins, now 11, and Chase Galvan, now 13, were 50 yards from shore when Garett was caught by a strong rip current. His friend Chase tried to reach out and grab him, but was pulled in after him.
Heacox said he saw the boys get swept out and told his own sons to get out of the water.
"By the time I turned around they were east-bound and down," he said. McGinley likewise heard the boys' screams for help, grabbed a rope he had with him, and ran down the beach. He said he entered the water at the same time as Heacox, and both began swimming toward the boys, yelling instructions for the boys to swim at an angle toward them. The boys had been pulled out 200 yards from shore.
Although the weather was warm, the water was a biting 52-degrees. Upon return to shore, Heacox and McGinley treated the boys for hypothermia and exhaustion. Despite their own hypothermic conditions they remained on scene and ensured the boy’s conditions were properly treated.
"Right place, right time, that's all it was," McGinley said after the award ceremony.
Several community members, including Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson, and Coast Guard officers turned out for the awards ceremony, where Heacox was awarded the Silver Life Saving Medal and McGinley a Certificate of Valor.
The Silver Lifesaving Medal is awarded by the Commandant of the Coast Guard to any person who rescues, or endeavors to rescue, any other person from drowning, shipwreck, or other peril of water, according to a Coast Guard release. Since 1874, only 1,900 Silver Lifesaving Medals have been awarded.
Garett and Chase, who attended the ceremony with their mothers, both said they were grateful for the officers' efforts.
Their rescue was one of two in the last 12 months at the same beach; five swimmers were rescued off Point No Point last July when their makeshift raft collapsed.