Boat rescue reminds couple that safety gear is important

By CATHY LOGG

Herald Writer

EVERETT – An unexpected marine rescue taught Ernie and Paulette Clayton of Everett the importance of basic safety equipment, knowledge and procedures.

"It made us think that all this stuff we carry around and move around and trip over is really important," Ernie Clayton said Thursday.

Last Friday, the Claytons rescued a Seattle family when their boat caught fire near Cypress Island in the San Juans. The family had to jump into the water; the mother was severely burned.

As director of safety, health and environmental affairs for the Boeing Co., Ernie Clayton spends a lot of time talking to employees about safety procedures, such as wearing protective equipment.

"These procedures are really important," he said. "When you need them, you really need them. We spend our lives trying to prevent (emergencies) from happening, but when they do, how you handle them is critical."

Like many boaters, the Claytons stocked their boat with appropriate gear, including blankets and flotation devices.

"It was the last thing in our minds that we’d have to do something like this," Clayton said.

They’ve already been to a store to restock the equipment they used in the rescue.

"We’re thinking about how we would be set up in case of another emergency," Paulette Clayton said. "I’ve been talking to all our friends, and we’re much more aware about being prepared for an emergency."

Ernie has taken a boating safety class, and Paulette plans to sign up for the next one offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, she said.

It not only prepares you for an emergency, she said, but it also lowers insurance rates.

"Take some boating classes seriously and learn the rescue procedures. Make sure your equipment works and you know how to use it," Ernie Clayton said.

The Coast Guard plans to award certificates of appreciation to the Claytons and Mike Henry, another boater who helped in the rescue.

The Seattle office gives out such certificates "when people do something extraordinary," Coast Guard Chief Eric Cookson said.

The Claytons rescued Mark and Danielle Lameroux and one of their daughters after they abandoned ship, and Henry rescued the couple’s other daughter. The Lamerouxs’ boat, Whiskers, sank in 66 feet of water.

Danielle Lameroux remained in satisfactory condition Thursday at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

You can call Herald Writer Cathy Logg at 425-339-3437or send e-mail to

logg@heraldnet.com.

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