Man tangled in fishing line pulled from water in dramatic Sonoma coast rescue

A man fell into the ocean, became tangled in fishing line, and floated calmly on his back roughly 50 yards offshore in the frigid Sonoma coast water until he was rescued by helicopter, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. 

A single deputy responded at about 9:30 a.m. to a report of a person possibly falling off a cliff at Fort Ross into the water below, where average temps hover around 50 degrees. He spotted a man stuck and unable to swim. 

The officer, identified only as Deputy Lyle in a Facebook post, attempted to throw a rescue line, but the man was too far. He was in the water for about 30 minutes, officials said. 

"Basically, he was just keeping himself afloat," said Sgt. Juan Valencia, adding they believe the man was fishing with friends. "He wasn't panicking, just kind of waiting. He was alert."  

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Henry 1, the department’s helicopter, was deployed with a rescue paramedic who was able to cut the man free and the two were flown back to shore.

The man, who was not identified, was transferred to a local hospital to be evaluated. 

“Luckily, this rescue has a happy ending,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a Facebook post. “Please remember our Sonoma Coast is beautiful yet rugged, please use caution and never turn your back on the water.”