A Columbia River bar pilot survived a harrowing tumble into darkness and the Pacific Ocean early Monday while trying to transfer from a Greek-flagged grain ship to a pilot vessel.
The pilot, Capt. Deb Dempsey, fell into the water about 1:41 a.m. shortly after turning the Navios Ionian back over to that ship's captain. She was attempting to transfer back to the pilot vessel Chinook at the time of the incident, according to Capt. Gary Lewin, of the Columbia River Bar Pilots.
"She went into the water and was rescued almost immediately," said Lewin, who credited the fact that the crews of the pilot ships are "well rehearsed" in open water rescues. "It all turned out well."
Lewin said he didn't have a lot of details because Dempsey was still resting and the investigation was still ongoing Monday afternoon. But he said the incident will be reviewed by both the bar pilots group and outside authorities.
The U.S. Coast Guard was dispatched to help but Dempsey had been rescued by the crew of the Chinook before Coast Guard arrived.