National

KPLU: Quileute Tribe welcomes man who was rescued in 2010






Members of the Quileute Tribe sing for Lance Leone and his wife. Photo © Ed Ronco / KPLU

Members of the Quileute Tribe of Washington rescued former U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Lance Leone after a helicopter crash four years ago this month. KPLU reports on his return to the reservation:
A few hundred people live in La Push, home to the Quileute tribe. Known as the setting of the popular “Twilight” novels, the town’s entrance bears a sign that reads: “No Vampires Beyond This Point – Treaty Line.” Between the natural beauty of the oceanfront town and its sudden literary fame, La Push has become a popular tourist destination. but it’s still very much a working town.

On the morning of July 7, 2010, Darryl Penn, Levi Black and Charlie Sampson were in the La Push Marina, where they were preparing for a day of fishing.

“All I saw was a splash,” Sampson said.

The three men jumped into a small motorboat and headed toward the debris. They hauled Leone out of the water and into the bow of the boat. Others onshore lifted Leone out of the boat and into a waiting ambulance.

“That’s in our DNA. That’s just who we are,” Penn said. “We’ll always respond to that sort of thing.”

One of them texted Leone’s wife, Ellen: “Lance is OK, he loves you.”

Four years later, Leone found himself standing face-to-face with his rescuers.

“I’d always been on the rescuer side, and to be on the rescuee side is different,” he told them. “You guys cared about me, and you kept talking about family and kids. It kept bringing me back to reality.”

Get the Story:
Four Years After A Life-Changing Tragedy, A Pilot Meets His Rescuers (KPLU 7/23)