That Time We Saved a Life

And the Coast Guard Took the Credit

Robyn Sinead Sheppard
2 min readJul 31, 2023
Miller Point. Ft. Abercrombie State Historical Park. Kodiak, AK

Kodiak Island, July 1971. My brother John and I were exploring the cliffs at Ft. Abercrombie State Park when we were drawn to a disturbance at the edge of one of the cliff faces at Miller Point. Directly below the cliffs was the North Pacific Ocean.

It seems a young boy of about 10 or 12 years old had gotten too close to the edge. It had crumbled under his weight, and he had fallen about 80 feet to the ground below. He appeared to be unconscious as he lay about 10 feet from the water’s edge. The spot is marked with the red X above.

And the tide was coming in. Rapidly.

Thinking quickly, John ran to my VW bug and drove it as close to the edge as he dared. I got out the climbing gear I usually carried and, using the car bumper as an anchor, rappelled down to where the boy lay. He was alive and had just regained consciousness. I strapped him into my climbing harness and John carefully pulled him up to safety, where two Coast Guardsmen put them in their car and drive him to the hospital.

Meanwhile, the tide had come in, forcing me to move about 50 feet to safety. I was cut off from any way to get back up…and the tide was still rising. I had to abandon this spot.

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Robyn Sinead Sheppard

A happily retired technical writer, I write in order to understand what I'm thinking.