Surfers rescue capsized boaters near Gold Beach

Gold Beach, Ore. — Two men are alive, after their boat capsized off the coast of Gold Beach, near the mouth of the Rogue River bar. It’s all thanks to three surfers who happened to be in the right place at the right time — and were brave enough to paddle out and help.

Drew Harper, Luke Martinez, and Rocky Burns have been surfing off the South Jetty in Gold Beach since they were 15. But Sunday brought more than the regular swells they’re used to.

Luke said, “We watched a bay liner, I guess it was about 25 feet, come in full throttle, with perfect timing with the set.” Drew and Luke were waiting for Rocky when they first saw the boat. After watching it disappear behind the jetty, they saw another man in a nearby truck jump out — and they knew something was wrong.

“We climbed up on the jetty, saw the boat had capsized, and i saw one individual, and then there was two,” said Luke. There were two people in the frigid water — no life jackets, with large waves tossing them in the surf.

“I grabbed my board, Drew was getting his wet suit on, he had to go back and get his booties.” Luke said. “And that’s when rocky showed up,” added Drew.

By then, Luke was already in the water, and had made his way to the boat.

He found two men — one in his fifties hanging onto the railing another in his 70’s, floating in the water. Luke said, “I grabbed the 70-year-old, he wasn’t hanging onto anything except for a white floatation thing.”

Drew had reached the pair by that point, and the two surfers began to help the man to safety. He said, “We had him grab the leash of my surf board, and I started paddling, and Luke was swimming with him.”

As they approached the shore, rocky met them in the water, and started to go out for the second man. After about 50 minutes, both men were safely brought to shore, where a sheriff’s marine deputy met them.

The first man rescued, Michael Miller, was rushed to an area hospital with hypothermia. He is now doing ok.

The second man, Bruce Walker, was treated on shore, and deemed to be fine.

A situation that could have had a much different ending — came down to one thing for the three surfers. “Good timing, luckily we were just sitting there watching what was going on,” said Luke. “Fortunately everyone was able to make it in safe,” added Drew.

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