Wayne Kitt helped to save Steven W. Stark and four others from drowning, Kodiak, Alaska, January 25, 2012. Stark, 40, was the captain of a 67-foot fishing boat, the Heritage, which became disabled while crossing Alitak Bay off the Gulf of Alaska at Kodiak Island during a severe storm before dawn. The engine compartment flooded, and the vessel capsized and sank, sending Stark and its six other occupants into the frigid water at a point about four miles from the nearer shore. Stark and four others of the crew were able to board a life raft. Kitt, 35, deckhand for another commercial fishing vessel, the 101-foot Tuxedni, and the others of the crew learned of the situation by radio. Despite darkness, sustained winds of 66 m.p.h. gusting to 75 m.p.h. that engendered 25-foot seas, a sub-zero air temperature, and blowing snow, the four men immediately left safe mooring in a bay off the nearer shore. They took the Tuxedni about four miles over the course of an hour to the last known location of the Heritage. Waves broke over the boat en route, and freezing spray impeded visibility and caused the boat to accumulate ice. After the crew spotted a light from the life raft, one of them used hand signals to guide the boat’s captain into positioning the Tuxedni close to and upwind of the raft. Kitt then threw a line to the raft and with another crew member drew it next to the Tuxedni. The five men in the life raft jumped, one by one, onto the side of the boat, Stark last, timing their jumps to the swells, and then were hauled aboard the Tuxedni by Kitt and the other crew members. Learning by radio that a Coast Guard helicopter had rescued the two others from the Heritage, the crew of the Tuxedni returned through unabated conditions to safe mooring at the nearer shore. No one was injured.
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