After being dragged off his fishing boat and left clinging to a buoy in the frigid waters just off the shore of Kingston, 63-year-old David Sigo had the chance to meet his rescuers.
During a ceremony of recognition Monday at the North Kitsap Fire & Rescue headquarters near Kingston, Sigo and his family had a chance to meet the individuals who initially heard his cries for help, as well as the firefighters who helped retrieve him from the water.
“I’m very fortunate to be here and appreciate the ones that called 911 for me,” Sigo said. “I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to hear me but I never gave up on my voice and my will to live.”
On Oct. 23, NKF&R received a call from Carl Wodenscheck, a contractor who reported a boat in distress off of President’s Point. The call included a report of a boat without an operator, going in circles.
Shortly after, NKF&R Battalion Chief Mike Mock, Marine Unit 81, and a paramedic unit were dispatched to the incident. About 10 minutes later, Marine 81 was underway from the Port of Kingston Marina. The battalion chief and another witness, Chad Waag of the Kitsap Public Utility District, attempted to locate the calls for help from a vantage point on the shore, before spotting a row of buoys about a mile offshore.
Using binoculars, they spotted Sigo in the water next to the buoys and relayed the information to Marine 81 for the recovery. About 20 minutes after the initial 911 call, Marine 81 arrived to rescue Sigo, untangling him from his net and bringing him aboard to begin hypothermia treatment before being transported to Harrison Hospital in Bremerton.
“In this case, we were very fortunate to have two people who helped us out quite a bit,” NKF&R Assistant Chief of Operations Rick LaGrandeur said. “Thank you for that because, without it, this situation could have been very different.”
According to Sigo, he was letting his net out and had about five feet of rope attached to the net before it made a loop. Noticing the loop, Sigo started backing away from the net before one of the loops grabbed ahold of his foot, sending him overboard next to a buoy.
“There was no way I was going to let loose of that buoy,” Sigo said.
Sigo said he estimated he had been in the water for about an hour before rescue arrived.
“I was really mad at my boat for what it did to me,” Sigo said in a laughing matter. “I was swearing at it. It probably sounded like someone was fighting out there. When I saw the lights on the beach, I knew someone heard me.”
Fortunately, all 1,800 feet of net was retrieved and the boat was found and safely docked.
It is entirely possible that prior experience played a role in Sigo’s fight for survival, as he had reportedly faced a much more daunting experience some 38 years ago in Bremerton. According to Sigo, it was 18 degrees Fahrenheit just after 2 a.m. as he was waiting for the last ferry to go out. A big wave, Sigo said, capsized his boat, resulting in him having to hold on to the overturned hull of his boat for nearly four hours before an 86-year-old man rowed a small boat out to save him.
“I think the motion of me all night moving is what kept me alive,” Sigo said. “I thought I met my maker on that one.”
In closing, Sigo thanked those whose alertness and responsiveness brought him back to shore once again.
“I really owe you guys my life,” he said. “Thank you for not giving up on me.”