CBP officer rescues teen near inspection dock in Roche Harbor
ROCHE HARBOR, Wash. – Memorial Day weekend proved to be more than memorable for Customs and Border Protection Officer Kevin D. Holmes.
Around 8 p.m. on May 26, Holmes was on duty waiting for a late arriving vessel when he received word of a potential drowning in progress behind the CBP Inspection Dock. Holmes ran over to the scene and witnessed a hectic situation involving a 16-year-old girl, her grandmother, a Roche Harbor security officer and six bystanders.
The girl had been on a separate kayak from her grandmother, when she intentionally jumped into the water in an attempt to commit suicide. She was about 30 feet from the dock and every time a life ring was tossed to her, she would push it away.
Holmes got into a dinghy that was passing by and asked its owner to take him out to where the girl was treading water. A rowboat was already on the scene trying to get her into his boat, but she avoided any attempt for assistance.
When the girl saw Holmes approaching, she stated her “dislike for cops” and grabbed the back of the boat. Holmes told her to get in, but she refused and turned away saying she was not going to the dock.
She grabbed the rowboat again as it made its way to shore with Holmes following close by. As they approached the shore, Holmes jumped into the cold waist-deep water and moved toward her. He started a conversation, asking for her name and age. He also found out she disliked “cops” because her father had been arrested and taken away. Holmes calmly said he was a different kind of “police.”
About 20 minutes passed, during which she told Holmes she had not taken her medication and wanted to go back into the deep water. They were in chest-deep water at this point when the man in the rowboat jumped in and pushed the girl toward Holmes, who grabbed her and carried her to shore.
Hypothermia was setting in and she had trouble walking. Holmes took off his body armor and put it on the teen for warmth as they walked up a hill away from the water. He also asked for people in nearby condos, who were watching, to bring some blankets and towels to dry her off.
Emergency medical services arrived and transported the girl to a local hospital.
“CBP Officer Holmes arrived to a chaotic scene to assess the situation,” Thomas Barnes, Port Director for Friday Harbor said. “If it wasn’t for CBP Officer Holmes quick and immediate actions, this situation may have ended very differently. I am proud to serve with him.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.