‘I was about dead,’ kayaker rescued off Montaña de Oro told fishermen

Montaña de Oro State Park.
Montaña de Oro State Park. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Two fishermen pulled a 72-year-old man from the water off Point Buchon on Friday morning after the man’s kayak overturned and left him struggling in the ocean for two hours.

The man, whose identity was not immediately released, was fatigued and suffering from hypothermia. His condition was not immediately known Friday afternoon.

Joe Loiseau and his brother, Hank, were fishing off Montaña de Oro State Park aboard their 22-foot vessel, The Fog Dog, at about 9:15 a.m. when Joe said he noticed a woman standing on a nearby cliff.

“I could tell from her body language something was wrong,” he said.

Before long, they spotted a man in the water, tied to his kayak just outside the breakers. They floored the engine, sped over and found him unresponsive.

“We thought he was dead already,” Joe Loiseau said.

When they pulled him onto the boat and called the U.S. Coast Guard, Loiseau said the man, who was “in real bad shape,” only said to him: “I was about dead.”

At the same time, members of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Marine Enforcement Unit were on a training exercise in the area aboard its recently acquired Defender Class boat that also carried county Supervisor Frank Mecham and legislative assistant Vicki Shelby Fogelman, who were aboard observing the exercise.

Mecham and Shelby Fogelman assisted the deputies and fishermen in carrying the kayaker aboard the Defender, said sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla said.

The Morro Bay Harbor Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard also assisted in the rescue. Mecham could not immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

The Defender took the man to Morro Bay Fire Department paramedics waiting on shore. A Morro Bay Fire Department spokesman said the man was taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo.

The Fire Department spokesman said the two brothers likely saved the kayaker’s life.

Cipolla said he did not know the kayaker’s condition Friday afternoon, but he said he is expected to recover.