A bottle saved lives


by Susana Díez

Posted on September 23, 2019

A bottle saved lives

Sometimes old resources have unexpected results. Curtis Whitson and his family were rescued because he sent a message in a bottle. They had decided to go camping for a few days in June. He knew a beautiful area of the Arroyo Seco River in California and his girlfriend and his son were interested in knowing the region.

The first day, they started down the river and the experience was very exciting. During the second day, the holidays continued in the same way, but on the third day, the problems arose. They were crossing a narrow gorge and realized they were coming to a waterfall. Since Curtis already knew the river, he remembers a safe place. There was a rope secured on the cliffs where they could hold on, but this time the rope was not. Without the rope, you could not descend the cliff. The area where they in, was very isolated and there had no phone coverage.

The situation was getting complicated because each step took them to a place from which they would not be able to return. There was no one to ask for help. The first thing that occurred to them was to write a rescue message on a stick and send it downstream, but the sticks they found were very small. So he used his water bottle. Fortunately his girlfriend, Krystal had brought a pen and paper where they could write the note. They also recorded the word "Help!" on both sides of the bottle. In the note, he described the situation in which they were and the specific place. Then he closed the bottle and throw it into the strong current. Although the moment was desperate, they had no choice but to wait, so they set up camp and got into their sleeping bags.

Surprisingly the wait was not very long. Just a few hours later a rescue helicopter flew overhead. With a loudspeaker, the pilots informed them that their message had been received. The bottle had been found by hikers who were only a quarter of a mile further down the river. Quickly the authorities were notified by the hikers. They handled them the bottle and rescue team got underway. The first one to find the family was the helicopter crew. But they had to wait the next day to be effectively rescued. The California Highway Patrol got the exact place where they were and rescue them. The family was finally safe. The adventure ended positively. Rescue team members commented that they had never received a rescue request in a bottle before and everyone was surprised by the results. Even Curtis himself was surprised at the effectiveness of the message in a bottle.

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