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VIDEO: Wave completely flips boat in dramatic Coast Guard rescue

A wave flips a boat during a Coast Guard rescue on Friday, Feb. 3. (Screenshot/Coast Guard)
February 07, 2023

A huge wave completely flips a sinking boat while a Coast Guard swimmer is trying to rescue those aboard in a dramatic video shared on social media.

Video shows the wave striking both the 35-foot boat, named P/C Sandpiper, as well as the rescuer, who was still in the water nearby trying to reach it. 

The incident took place on Friday about six miles into the Pacific Ocean west of the Columbia River, according to a Coast Guard press release.

The Coast Guard reported 20-foot waves and “extremely high windspeeds” on the scene. After the boat rolled all the way over on the wave, the rescuer was able to recover its operator, who had suffered minor injuries after being thrown from the boat, and bring them to safety, according to the Coast Guard.

The rescue swimmer, Aviation Survival Technician 3rd Class John “Branch” Walton, graduated from Advanced Rescue Helicopter School hours after the incident, according to the release. It was the first time Walton had ever saved a life as a rescue swimmer.

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The Coast Guard said the rescued individual was taken to a base for medical evaluation. His situation didn’t improve much from there: he’s been arrested for stealing the boat, the New York Times reported.

The man, named Jericho Labonte, stole the boat from a marina in Astoria, Oregon. He was already wanted in Astoria for filming himself days earlier leaving a dead fish outside a house made famous by the 1985 film “The Goonies.” 

After being released from medical care, Labonte was spotted at a warming center in Astoria and arrested. He now faces multiple charges, including theft, endangering another person, unauthorized use of a vehicle and criminal mischief, according to Astoria police.