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Aug-16-2010 18:21printcomments

Off Duty Salem Cop Doubles as Hero at Detroit Lake

Three individuals worked together to rescue a drowning victim, one was a local Salem school resources officer.

Rescue at Detroit Lake, Oregon 15 August 2010
Photos courtesy: Don Thomson/Marion County Sheriff

(DETROIT LAKE) - A 15-year old Portland youth was evacuated from Detroit Lake Sunday afternoon, following a near-drowning incident. Deputies from Marion County Sheriff's Marine Patrol, along with Detroit- Lyons Medics, responded to the Hoover boat ramp at about 2:45 p.m.

Don Thomson with the Marion County Sheriff's Office says as it turns out, one of the man's rescuers was an off-duty Salem Police officer.

Thomson said, "Follow up investigation into this near-drowning incident has revealed additional information. Shortly after the victim, Jason Nguyen was brought to the surface by Samaritan Craig Hemengway; a third witness became involved in the rescue. That witness is identified as off-duty Salem Police Officer Sanford Groat. Officer Groat was at the lake with family and friends when he observed the commotion near the boat ramp. Seeing that Craig Hemengway needed additional help, Groat went into the water and helped to bring Nguyen to the boat ramp where they could tend to him."

Thomson says along with Hemengway and Tawnya Roozeboom, Groat provided CPR to the victim for several minutes. The three Samaritans stayed with the victim until relieved by Marion County Marine deputies & medics.

Hoover Rock

"Officer Groat is a 13-year veteran of the Salem Police Department, currently assigned to Parrish Middle School as their School Resource Officer. Following the incident, Groat drove to the Santiam Hospital where he received several stitches for a gash on his left leg. He cut it on the underwater rocks while helping to retrieve the victim from the water. He is recovering at home."

Groat commented, "It was good to see so many people stepping up and helping out. This young man needed everyone's help to make it through this incident. It was a combined effort".

Thomson says Sr. Deputy Dave Zahn and Cadet Eric Banick arrived to find a crowd surrounding samaritans who were administering life saving measures to the young man. Deputies learned that the victim was unconscious when pulled from the water.

"The Sheriff's Office personnel assisted in stabilizing the victim until Medics could transport him to the US Forest Service landing pad on the north side of the lake. Reach 8 helicopter arrived shortly after and transported him to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland."

Deputies interviewed witnesses and learned that the victim, Jason Nguyen, 15, of Portland and his 19-year old brother, Eric, were attempting to swim from Hoover Rock to the shoreline of Highway 22, a distance of several hundred feet. Half way across the water, Nguyen began to struggle and slipped under the surface.

Sanford Groat was instrumental in helping with the rescue effort. Additionally, "Mr. Hemengway and Ms. Roozeboom did not hesitate to get involved when they saw someone in need of help. I applaud their heroic action." commented Deputy Zahn.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office reminds boaters and swimmers to familiarize themselves with the water environment and its potential hazards. Wear a flotation device and be sure to remain within your personal limits when boating or swimming.

Jason Nguyen has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home.

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Vic August 17, 2010 7:54 am (Pacific time)

Good job !

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