• Family rescued from Lake Chelan: 'We were lucky'

    By: Alison Grande

    Updated:

    A Woodinville family was rescued from Lake Chelan after their boat sank.

    The Lough family and some friends were on their power boat, headed up Lake Chelan for a camping trip last Friday. The power boat started to take on water when they were near Safety Harbor.

    The lake was rough and waves were crashing over the boat. Richmond Lough passed out life jackets to the other six passengers. Lough said the boat sank in about two minutes.

    "I don't think anybody jumped out. I think they just floated out," said Lough. He said all three of his teenagers were strong swimmers, they swam competitively and had been Scouts. 

    Richmond Lough grabbed their 10 week-old Golden Doodle puppy and put it in the cooler to help it float.
    © 2018 Cox Media Group.

    "I was doing head checks, " said Lough, "I yelled out to the kids (to) pair up, get in groups, stay together." 

    He grabbed their 10-week-old Golden Doodle puppy, named "Ginger," and put her in the cooler to help her float.

    He said the winds were strong and tall waves were rolling around them. They were left treading water and waiting for help in the cold lake 200-300 yards from shore. Even if they could swim to the edge of the lake, Lough said there was nowhere to get out, it is all steep rock face.

    Passengers on a passing boat saw debris in the water. When they got closer they could see someone was waving. 

    There were seven people in the water.

    The boat was ferrying workers from the Rio Tinto mine cleanup project at Holden Village.

    Steve Byquist was piloting the boat for Pool Engineering. He had to carefully maneuver to get close enough to pull out the victims, without running over them in the rough water. Byquist is long-time Chelan resident and avid boater.  

    "Right time, right place, right equipment, right crew," said Byquist on his boat Wednesday, "We had the ramp down into the water scooping them out of the water."

    Boat in Lake Chelan
    © 2018 Cox Media Group.

    Byquist and the passengers worked to warm up the family and took them to the U.S. Forest Service 25 -Mile Guard Station Dock where emergency crews were waiting.

    Lough's wife and a family friend had to be treated for hypothermia.

    On Wednesday afternoon Lough got to thank Byquist for saving his family, "If you wouldn't have been there we probably would have lost somebody."

    Lough plans to have his boat lifted out of the water on Friday. He is eager to see the bottom. He thinks he might have hit a piece of wood in the water which could have damaged the boat, but he didn't feel it at the time. 

    Lough said the wildfires last year burned down to the lake and there is more debris floating in Lake Chelan than usual.

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