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News arrow News arrow Local News arrow FAMILY SURVIVES ORDEAL AT SEA

FAMILY SURVIVES ORDEAL AT SEA Print E-mail
August 07, 2001 11:00 pm

By SCOTT GRAVES

GOLD BEACH Trapped inside a capsized fishing boat Saturday, her remaining air running out, Brookings mother Lisa Eber waited with her 9-year-old son for help until she couldnt wait any longer.

She took a deep breath and swam down into a sea of darkness, pulling her son, Robby, with her.

Either he was going to die with me or live with me, Eber said Tuesday, three days after the sea almost claimed her life and that of her son and husband.

We prayed; we prayed a lot and the Lord pulled us through, Eber said.

The Brookings family was pulled from the ocean by rescuers at the mouth of the Rogue River Saturday after a large wave flipped their commercial fishing vessel.

The family left Charleston earlier that day in their boat and were attempting to enter the bay at Gold Beach near the north jetty at 7:30 p.m. when the wave hit, said Curry County Sheriffs Marine Deputy Ted Heath.

Robert Eber, 38, was thrown into the water, but his wife and son were trapped in the belly of the capsized boat for approximately 40 minutes before they swam out and were rescued.

The U.S. Coast Guard responded to the scene, attaching a rope to the capsized boat to keep it from drifting out to sea. Coast Guardsmen rescued Robert, who had been clinging onto the side of the boat, Heath said.

Bill McNair, owner of Jerrys Rogue Jets, responded to the accident in one of his tour boats. Sheriff Lt. Allen Boice, Marine Reserve Deputy John Lampos and county search and rescue member George Edwards arrived at the scene within minutes.

Lampos, who was in the water in his diving suit, was unable to help because he was being swept away from the boat by strong currents, Heath said.

Once Lisa and her son swam to the surface, Boice and Edwards dove into the water and helped them into McNairs jet boat.

All three family members were transported to Curry General Hospital. Robert was treated for mild hypothermia and was released.

Lisa and her son were treated for severe hypothermia and were kept in the hospital overnight. Robbys core body temperature had plummeted to 91 degrees at one point, Lisa said.

On Tuesday, she recounted the accident, saying it was her sons calm that helped them survive.

He helped me immensely by being calm that whole time, she said.

I kept thinking that someone was going to come and show us the way out. We could hear someone on the outside of the boat.

But after 40 minutes and the air pocket in the overturned boat about to disappear, she decided to take matters into her own hands.

I told Robby what we were going to do, she said. We both took a deep breath and dove into the water. I went under the engine compartment and swam down and down until I saw daylight. I followed that and made it to the surface.

Once on the surface, Lisa held her sons face above the water. People were throwing life rings at us and two people dove in after us, she said.

We are so grateful for everyone who helped out.

Robert said he had attempted to rescue his wife and son several times, diving under the boat and then returning to the surface, where he clung to the boat as waves pounded him.

I just couldnt get enough air to make it into the house, he said.

Eber said the ocean wasnt particularly rough that day. As we approached the jetty it looked good. Then a set of waves came in and the first one hit us just right and flipped us.

It was just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, he said.

The familys pet dog, Patches, a beagle, was onboard the boat and did not survive, he said.

The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the accident.

 

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