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Sonoma County Sheriff's helicopter crew aids windsurfer

The Sonoma County sheriff's helicopter crew rescued a distressed windsurfer Thursday night in Marin County.

The helicopter crew was on routine air patrol over Santa Rosa shortly before 6 p.m. when pilot Paul Bradley and Deputy Sheriff Chris Mahoney, the tactical flight officer, overheard a radio transmission from Marin County Fire requesting fire and rescue personnel for an ocean rescue in Tomales Bay.

Within eight minutes, the helicopter arrived and the crew spotted a windsurfer in the water just outside the mouth of the bay. The windsurfer was clinging to his board and waving his arms, Lt. Tim Duke said.

After Bradley landed the helicopter on the west shore of the bay to configure it for a long-line rescue, Mahoney attached himself to the bottom of the long-line and Bradley flew him to the windsurfer's location.

Mahoney was able to secure the windsurfer, and Bradley flew them both – dangling at the end of the long-line – to the shore at Dillon Beach, where other emergency personnel were waiting.

The man's name was unavailable late Thursday.

Duke said the flight crew trains for rescues in the ocean, on cliffs and other remote areas in the North Coast and carries water-rescue equipment for incidents like this.


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