Two Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office deputies have been recognized for their life-saving efforts last summer during an incident at Lake Billy Chinook.
The Oregon State Marine Board recognized heroic efforts by Sheriff’s Office deputies, marine safety officers and private citizens, in five separate counties this season, during the agency’s virtual post-season conference held on November 18.
The Life Saving Award recognizes individuals who have exhibited heroism, going above and beyond the call of duty, by directly attempting to rescue one or more persons involved in a water-related incident.
On June 26, Jefferson County Sheriff deputies noticed a group of young men running into the water near the Crooked River boat launch at Lake Billy Chinook.
The young men were swimming to an offshore floating dock. Initially, deputies thought they were racing each other until they heard a person yell that someone was drowning.
Deputy Marty Kaczmarek turned around and saw that there were two people struggling to stay afloat.
One person was submerged with just the top of his head visible.
Dep. Kaczmarek removed his vest and gun and immediately jumped in the water with two other bystanders.
Dep. Kaczmarek and the two bystanders swam out to the floating dock where the two swimmers were struggling.
Dep. Kaczmarek, with the help of a bystander, grabbed one victim and swam him back to Sr. Dep. Melody Zistel, who was now standing in the water up to her neck.
Sr. Dep. Zistel helped pull the victim to shore with the two men.
The first victim was breathing but couldn’t talk and was out of breath.
Three more men swam out and pulled the second victim from the water as Dep. Kaczmarek and Sr. Dep. Zistel was tending to the first victim. Sr. Dep. Zistel coordinated the medical response and both men were taken to the hospital.
The deputies’ quick actions, along with other civilian bystanders, directly led to two lives being saved.
For more information about the Marine Board, visit https://boat.oregon.gov.