By Annette Cary
The Tri-City Herald 

Marvel, tug boat crew honored


December 5, 2018

Contributed: American Legion Post 57

COUPLE RESCUED: This couple clung to their boat for three hours in the Columbia River in September before a tug boat-with Goldendale's Ken Marvel-rescued them. Marvel and the rest of the boat crew were recently honored.

The crew of a Tidewater Transportation tug has been honored for saving the lives of two boaters who clung perilously to the side of their capsized boat for three hours before being spotted.

The crew of Ryan Point was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year Award and American Legion Silver Heroism Awards by the Fred E. Hayes Post 57 of the American Legion in Grandview.

The Umatilla, Ore., couple had been hanging onto their overturned boat in the cold Columbia River downriver of McNary Dam when the tugboat crew saw them Sept. 11.

The tug was moving grain from Pasco to Longview at the time.

The man and woman were difficult to see because of the rough water and whitecaps and the angle of the sun as the Ryan Point came by at 6 p.m. Another tug's crew had missed seeing them when it passed just 30 minutes earlier.

Derek A. Ness, 38, and Laurie D. Merrell, 47, both of Umatilla, Ore., were finally rescued by the crew of the Tidewater tug, Ryan Point, led by Capt. Josh Burrows.

"If not for them and their vigilance, the end of this story would have been very different," said Melissa Ross, administrative lieutenant for the sheriff's office.

The couple were both hypothermic and weak, and one had a temperature so low it did not register on a thermometer, said the Morrow County Sheriff's Office.

The Ryan Point crew pulled them aboard the tug and took them to the Tidewater dock at Boardman, Ore., where an ambulance waited.

Those serving in maritime occupations have an over-riding obligation to come to the aid of those in peril at sea or inland waterways, said the citation issued by Post 57.

The crew was given a bronze plaque, which will hang in the Ryan Point, and heroism medals were given to Captain Josh Burrows, Pilot Riley Wyatt and deck mechanics Ken Marvel, Billy Pike and Harry Pike.

The crew of Tidewater Transportation's tug Ryan Point was honored for saving the lives of two boaters in September. From left are Port Captain Brian Fletcher, Captain Josh Burrows, Commander Robert Gates of Legion Post 57 and deck mechanic Ken Marvel.

Courtesy American Legion Post 57


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