Queen captain honored for saving lives | NevadaAppeal.com

Queen captain honored for saving lives

William Ferchland

Thanks to Capt. Chris Gallup’s experience – and binoculars – a family was saved from the grips of Lake Tahoe.

The efforts of Gallup and the crew of the Tahoe Queen to save five children and an adult in a sinking rental boat last summer were observed by a high-ranking Coast Guard official, who commended the captain for the rescue.

Gerald Swanson, commanding officer of the San Francisco Bay’s Coast Guard office, presented a Certificate of Merit to Gallup this month.

Gallup, who was driving the sternwheeler that cruises South Shore and Emerald Bay for sightseers out of Ski Run Marina, saw through his binoculars a boat going full throttle into high waves. The children on board looked frightened, Gallup said, and they were not wearing personal flotation devices.

Gallup steered the Queen, which was on its way back from Emerald Bay, toward the boat. He knew the boat would be submerged.

The certificate contained a narrative of the event.

“Immediately, Capt. Gallup brought the Tahoe Queen around, broadcast ‘Mayday,’ and ordered his crew to quarters as he rushed toward the sinking vessel,” it stated. “As the Tahoe Queen arrived on scene, he found the boat virtually immersed in water with one adult and five children in grave danger as the sinking vessel continually took waves and water over the bow.”

The crew was ordered to rescue the youngest children first. The youngest was about 6 years old, while the oldest was around 12, Gallup recalled Friday, before the Queen set off for its afternoon tour.

The male adult, Gallup said, never expressed gratitude for the rescue.

“The father didn’t say two words to us,” he said.

Blankets were given to the “wet and terrified children” to avoid hypothermia. The six were transferred to a Placer County Sheriff’s boat.

The rescue was a little more than a week before a group of nine were knocked into the lake from their rental boat by high waves. A married couple drowned.

Swanson praised Gallup, who has been with the Queen since 1990 and in 1996, received his 100-ton captain’s license.

“A flawless marine lifesaving action,” Swanson described the event.

Gallup deflected some of the kind words to his crew with, “I wish I could give the award to the others that were involved.”

Other boat commanders on the lake would do the same thing, Gallup said.

“It’s our responsibility,” he said. “Every captain on the lake will come to the rescue of anyone in distress when called to do so.”

E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com.