Two juveniles rescued on Pearl River

Published 6:07 pm Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Two teenagers were rescued through the assistance of a combination of volunteer fire departments and a private boater.

Carriere Fire Chief Tom Wagner said the two teens, Nathan and Emily Robin of Carriere, were boating Saturday on the Pearl River when their motor lost power.

After the boat motor quit, the juveniles were adrift in the swift current of the Pearl River, a press release from the department states.

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Pine Grove and Carriere Volunteer Fire Departments were dispatched to the Walkiah Bluff boat launch where they met with deputies from the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department and two fire fighters from the Poplarville Fire Department, Wagner said.

The juveniles called their father with a cell phone, but with spotty cell phone coverage in that area, the call was lost, Wagner said. Worried, the father called 911 at about 4:41 p.m. to alert emergency personnel to the situation.

Chief David Hribar of Pine Grove Volunteer Fire Department directed river operations, assisted by rescue boats from Pine Grove, Carriere and Southeast Fire Departments.

The juveniles were found within an hour of emergency personnel arriving on scene, Wagner said.

“Fortunately it didn’t take all that long,” Wagner said.

Emergency personnel were back in service by 6:45 that same night.

Initially, the missing juveniles could not be found, but a passing boater said he saw a stranded boat on the side of the river near Government Ditch, the release states.

A rescue boat was dispatched to that area where the missing boat and the two juveniles were being towed by a private boater back to the boat launch. Wagner said the kind-hearted individual towing the boat had seen the stranded juveniles and offered assistance. The rescue boat then escorted the other two boats back to the Walkiah boat launch. No injuries were reported by the juveniles.

Wagner said he didn’t know the names of the private boater who towed the stranded teens or the one who reported seeing a boat on the side of the river.

The two juveniles reported that their boat had become stranded after the motor quit working.

St. Tammany Parish Search and Rescue and two helicopter services were placed on alert in case they were needed during the incident, the release states.

Wagner said incidents where people turn up missing in the Pearl River area usually occur about two to three times a year. On average only one involves a death. Deaths usually occur in incidents that involve people who can’t swim or when alcohol is involved, Wagner said.

While Carriere Volunteer Fire Department has personnel prepared to respond to swift water and flash flood instances, efforts are ongoing to include more volunteer firefighters county wide, no matter the district they belong to, Wagner said.

Residents planning to go boating should take a set of oars, life jackets and a cell phone with them for safety. It is also a good idea to let family members and friends know the destination and a tentative time of return.

Carriere Volunteer Fire Department will take events of the incident and critique it, Wagner said. That will involve pointing out the things that went well, and working on the things that did not. Pictures and reports collected during the incident will be used to help with the critique, which will be attended by Sheriff David Allison, the release states.