SEATTLE – A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agent and his family were sailing en route to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Tuesday, when they intercepted a Coast Guard broadcast stating a man had fallen overboard near Edmonds and was in need of urgent assistance. The family quickly changed course and raced to the man’s aid.
Mike MacEvitt was working off the coast of Edmonds early this week when high winds and rough seas caused the derelict sailboat he and his coworker were towing to come unhitched. As Mike was attempting to reestablish the tow line, the rocking of both boats caused him to fall into the treacherous waters. His coworker successfully placed a tow line under Mike, but was unable to pull him aboard, so he quickly made an emergency call to the Coast Guard to ask for help. Steven M., whose last name has been withheld because of the nature of his job, frequently monitors emergency channels and made the lifesaving decision to rush to assist Mike.
As a special agent with HSI, the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, Steven has a demanding job combatting the illicit import and sales of illegal weapons and drugs and human trafficking. He spends his personal time sailing with his wife and two boys as a way to relax and connect with his family.
“When we got the call, we had to help,” said Steven. “When we got close to the boat we could see a man in the water, but had to maintain a safe distance from the smaller vessel so we decided I should row to him in our dinghy.”
Steven’s wife Bobbi immediately took control of the sailboat, keeping it a safe distance from the other boats as Steven took off in the dinghy to rescue Mike.
“I was hanging there for a long time, maybe a half an hour,” said MacEvitt. “The water was very cold and by the time Steven got to me I wasn’t really coherent.”
Steven pulled MacEvitt into the dinghy and with the help of his sons brought him safely on board the family boat.
Steven’s sons Hunter, 17, and Chance, 15 are very proud of their father.
“Some of our decisions were made without regard for my Dad’s safety, but were based on the general health and safety of the victim, who had fallen from the boat,” said Chance M. “A lot of these decisions could have ended with unsatisfactory results but we did not have enough time to make a game plan for what was going to happen. In my point of view, everyone in this situation was very thorough and attentive to help the man, and we stuck to my dad’s motto, ‘Stay hard’.”
“My father’s actions that day and his ability to make split second decisions in stressful times saved that man’s life,” said Hunter. “He was able to quickly take the initiative and deploy the dinghy as soon as possible. Many people may just ignore these kind of calls or just blow them off thinking somebody else will do the work, but my father isn’t that kind of a man. He heard the call and knew what he had to do. We wouldn’t have been able to get the man, who I now know as Mike, to safety without him.”
Mike says that when Steven approached him on the dinghy he was very close to giving up and would have sank to the bottom of the ocean like a rock.
Although the drowning danger was gone, the work wasn’t over once Mike was aboard, they now had to worry about Mike succumbing to hypothermia from the extreme cold he endured while in the water.
“Thank heaven Steven was able to get me onboard. My clothes were completely soaked and I was shaking like a leaf. He was able to get me warmed up by putting me in a hot shower aboard his boat,” continued MacEvitt. “I’ve already said this a bunch of times but thank you, thank you, thank you. Steven truly did save my life!”