HSU Professor Awarded Coast Guard Medal for Rescue of 14-Year-Old Girl

Information from HSU:

oast Guard helicopter feature

Coast Guard helicopter [Stock photo from Wikipedia by Vlad Lazarenko]

HSU Mathematics Professor Chris Dugaw was recently awarded a Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Medal for his role in a dangerous, stormy, nighttime rescue in the Headwaters Forest in 2016.

When a 14-year-old girl became lost in the forest near Ridgewood Heights in Eureka on Nov. 22, Dugaw and his neighbor, Coast Guard Petty Officer Allan Campbell, joined a Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team and a Coast Guard helicopter in the effort to find her.

Dugaw, who knows the forested area well, was able to locate the girl in a ravine and point the helicopter to her location, but it was too thickly wooded to hoist her out.

Dugaw and Campbell decided to descend through thick brush into the steep, slick ravine, where they found the exhausted and emotional teen in a state of hypothermia. With her conditioning worsening, they began to help her out of the ravine. Five hours after joining the search, Dugaw and Campbell were able to get her to a clearing big enough for the helicopter to hoist all three of them to safety. They were all treated at the hospital for injuries and exposure.

A Coast Guard Admiral traveled to Air Station Humboldt Bay to honor Dugaw and members of the Coast Guard in a recent ceremony.

“With ingenuity and courage, Dr. Dugaw accomplished a daring rescue,” the commendation reads. “Demonstrating initiative and fortitude, he helped save the life of a 14-year-old girl which may have otherwise been lost. Dr. Dugaw’s unselfish actions and valiant service reflect great credit upon him and are keeping with the highest tradition of humanitarian service.”

HSU President Lisa A. Rossbacher applauds Dugaw’s efforts.

“Professor Dugaw’s actions are inspiring,” Rossbacher says. “I’m always proud to see members of this community go to such lengths to help others in need. Collaborations like this amazing rescue are evidence of what makes our regional community so special.”

Earlier Chapter: Three Hoisted Out by Helicopter After Lost Juvenile Located



  • With all the negative folks around its extra great to be reminded how damn lucky we are to have such community minded caring brave folks here!! They can hate all they want, these peoples stories are at the core/heart of our communities, I♡Humboldt
    Thank you!!!

  • Kudos all around. Petty Officer Campbell should be promoted to Chief Petty Officer.

    • Petty Officer Campbell recieved the Coast Guard Commendation Medal for his actions that night. He like so many men and women of the USCG is a true hero many times over.

  • What does it say, when a hundred-something people post comments, stridently rejecting the concept of gun control that WILL save the lives of children, and ONLY FOUR people have commented on the brave, selfless actions of men who literally saved a young girl’s life?
    = A lack of REAL caring about children!
    Thank you to the brave men who risked their own wellbeing to aid child!!!

  • I want known I’m so thankful that my son is best friends to
    Dr. Dugaw’s cousin, Charles/Chaz Dugaw of Wa. State. I’m happy Chaz that you posted the article about your cousin. I see how deeply proud you are of him and rightfully so. Maybe if the gun toters that shot up our youth were brought up like he, you and my son Tony were, our country would be in a much better place today. Thanks for posting Chaz. Thank you Dr. Dugaw, Alan Campbell and the USA COAST GUARD for your heroic rescue of this beautiful child. Forever grateful for people like you…God Bless You!

    • Just so that everyone knows, this is not me Dee, I accidentally entered the wrong picture code and then timed out before I could change it. This is my dearest friend in the whole world, Joy Massey and part of her family. Aren’t they beautiful?💜

  • Wow. This is so cool. Congratulations to Chris, a real hero! Don Strong.

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