Thick fog prevented Curry County Sheriff’s marine rescue crews from reaching a Wild River Lodge’s caretaker who was complaining Saturday of shortness of breath, extreme weakness and wasn’t sure he’d make it through the night.
The lodge is about 10 miles east of Agness on the Rogue River, which is 35 miles from Gold Beach.
Caretaker Gary Hyde called Curry County Commissioner Court Boice, who lives in Agness, at about 10:30 p.m. Boice and EMT Julie Scherbarth, Curry County Deputy Ted Heath and Search and Rescue volunteers Tad Bell and Mark Barnes, headed out in a rescue boat.
According to Curry County Sheriff John Ward, the fog was so thick, those in the boat couldn’t see either bank of the river, nor any lights.
“The visibility was no more than just over 20 feet,” Boice said. “We made it only a half-mile upriver to the top of the Brewery Hole — it seemed, by Braille. It was almost impossible to read the river and simply not safe to proceed any farther.”
The river was flowing at about 4,000 cubic feet per second, creating many rocky areas. The boat then ran aground in a shallow spot. The crew onboard spent some time freeing it before they were forced to abandon the mission for the night.
The team said they needed to travel at least 20 mph to get over some of the shallower spots and then rapids, and couldn’t do so in the fog.
Boice returned the following morning and retrieved Hyde from the lodge. He was transported to Curry General Hospital where Boice said he is “doing well.”
Boice, who has navigated the Rogue River for about 45 years — and conducted several rescue missions in the night in the Wild and Scenic portion of the river — said he’d never seen fog that thick.
“The lights were essentially just reflecting back at us and blocking my vision,” he said.