A former Franklin County deputy sheriff who spent 45 minutes battling the surf and keeping a teenager’s head above water was described as delirious and losing consciousness when rescuers were finally able to pull the two from 50-degree water.
Deputy Terry Brown, who now works on Southern Oregon’s coast, was hospitalized in critical condition Monday, but he and the 14-year-old from Brookings are expected to recover, Curry County Sheriff John Bishop said.
Brown worked as a Franklin County deputy from 2006 to September of 2013, officials said.
The boy was in about 3 feet of water at Harris Beach north of Brookings when he got pulled seaward by a strong, rip current into what Bishop said was extremely rough surf.
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Brown was among those responding to a 911 call. He stripped to his uniform pants and T-shirt, put on an orange life vest and went after the boy.
When he got to him, Bishop said Tuesday, the deputy had to let go of the rope he’d brought along so that he could keep the teenager from going under.
The deputy and the teenager were 100 yards to 200 yards offshore as the surf churned, swirling the two in a large circle and defeating attempts by vessels from a kayak to a Coast Guard boat to reach them or get ropes to them.
Eventually, a rescue swimmer was able to tie ropes to them so they could be pulled ashore.
Both were hypothermic, Bishop said, but Brown was in worse shape.
“He was within minutes,” said Bishop said. “If he had been in the water 5 or 10 minutes more, we would have lost him.”
Bishop didn’t identify the boy but said he was expected to go home Tuesday. The deputy may be kept in the hospital a few more days so his lungs can be monitored for salt water damage, Bishop said.