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Juneau mayor honors 4 who saved drowning man

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Posted: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 1:08 pm | Updated: 11:23 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

JUNEAU, Alaska - A 63-year-old Juneau man is alive thanks to four people who pulled him unconscious from a Juneau harbor last month.

Mayor Bruce Botelho on Monday night described Bert Fawcett, Crystal Fawcett, Jerry Burns and John Feller as heroes for rescuing contractor Bruce Denton after a mishap Aug. 27 in his rowing shell.

The Fawcetts were driving away from a parking lot near the Juneau Yacht Club when Crystal Fawcett spotted a man in a rowing shell between the shore and main floats, KTOO-FM reported (http://bit.ly/S2Wc9u ).

She looked again and saw the shell had stopped. She also saw what she thought was a red life jacket, which turned out to be blood. Denton had hit his head while rowing under a harbor ramp and fallen in the seawater.

Bert Fawcett, and Burns, who was on his way to his own boat, rushed down the harbor ramp and dove into the water.

Denton was submerged next to the shell about 15 feet from the main float, unconscious, not breathing and foaming at the mouth. Fawcett cradled Denton's head above the water, and the rescuers attempted to drag him to the dock - but Denton's feet remained strapped in the 24-foot shell.

Onshore, Crystal Fawcett called out to Feller, who was on his houseboat.

Feller grabbed a deck brush with a long handle and used it to pull the shell close to the ramp.

"He was able to reach out with the deck brush to help Bert and Jerry, and once John was able to reach out and hold the victim, Jerry made it onto the dock while Bert was able to release the Velcro straps that were keeping the victim anchored to the shell," Botelho said.

Feller performed CPR on Denton, which expelled water from his chest. Denton coughed and started to breathe.

Capital City Fire and Rescue responders rushed Denton to Bartlett Regional Hospital.

After a night in intensive care, he was released.

Denton was at the Juneau Assembly chambers Monday to thank his rescuers, who were awarded Citizen Commendations. Denton encouraged people to learn CPR.

"I would like to think that something good for me, besides surviving, that's coming from this thing is that it would be an opportunity to encourage people to take a class," he said.

Burns works for Juneau Marine Services. Bert Fawcett has been a firefighter and worked in tourism over the summer. Crystal Fawcett is a student at the University of Alaska Southeast. Feller is a retired commercial fisherman.

"They all have in common that they are residents of our Juneau harbor," Botelho said.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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