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Sailors honored for thwarting sea lion attack

Jun 29, 2018
US Sailing gave Roger van Hertsen, above, and his father Evrard van Hertsen the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal for rescuing a swimmer attacked by a sea lion off San Francisco.

US Sailing gave Roger van Hertsen, above, and his father Evrard van Hertsen the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal for rescuing a swimmer attacked by a sea lion off San Francisco.

Courtesy US Sailing

Roger van Hertsen and his father Evrard van Hertsen prepared to weigh anchor near Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco late last year when they noticed something unusual on the horizon.

What appeared to be two heads bobbing on the surface was actually a swimmer trying to fend off an attacking sea lion. The man, later identified as 56-year-old Christian Einfeldt, yelled out that he had been bitten.

The van Hertsens’ Beneteau 37 Grey Goose quickly covered the 200 yards separating them from Einfeldt, who climbed aboard the sailboat. Their presence also scared off the sea lion, who bit deeply into Einfeldt’s elbow.

The US Sailing Safety-at-Sea Committee awarded the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal to the father-son team for their role in the Dec. 14, 2017, rescue. The award was given in late April during the Pacific Sail and Power Boat Show in Richmond, Calif.

Evrard van Hertsen.

Courtesy US Sailing

“US Sailing is pleased to award the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal to Roger van Hertsen and Evrard van Hertsen for maintaining a lookout, coming to the aid of a severely injured swimmer, quickly getting the victim to professional emergency services and saving Christian Einfeldt,” US Sailing said in a statement announcing the award.

The Hanson Medal is given to those who provide assistance following a shipwreck, during potential drowning and other perils at sea. It is named for the late Arthur Hanson, an ocean sailing racer from the Chesapeake Bay region.

US Sailing’s Safety-at-Sea Committee collects details from these incidents for use in education and training programs, according to a news release.

The van Hertsens carried Einfeldt to Pier 45 where an ambulance was waiting. Doctors at a local hospital performed surgery on his wound and also ordered rabies shots and an antibiotic to treat a potentially serious bacterial infection. Einfeldt left the hospital a day after the incident.

Attempts to reach the van Hertsens and Einfeldt for an interview were not successful.

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