Budget cuts deactivate Ocean Shores rescue team

OCEAN SHORES, Wash. -- A water rescue team that saves lives is about to go under. The mayor of Ocean Shores is deactivating the surf rescue team in a budget cut.

But one girl who was rescued by the team hopes they can be spared.

"I was just going for a swim and I went out too deep and I got caught by the riptide," said Lizzie Dambacher.

Dambacher was with her family near the jetty last summer when the lure of the water nearly killed her.

"The second I couldn't touch the ground, my first thoughts were 'I'm screwed,' because I knew I was in trouble," she said.

The riptide and heavy waves kept pulling her further from shore.

"I purposefully watched out for the waves so when they came over I would hold my breath and not suck in the water," she said.

Officer Chris Iversen of the Surf Rescue Team saw she was in trouble, and as she managed to get close to shore, helped pull her out.

But the mayor of Ocean Shores just announced the surf rescue team is being deactivated -- the $50,000 yearly cost in overtime and hazard pay is too much in a tight budget year.

The Dambacher's are dumbfounded

"I was really shocked, because that's crucial, absolutely crucial to have a team like that in place," said Linda Dambacher, Lizzie's mother. "Those men and women are trained to do that job."

The team has a long history of saving lives, and it's dangerous work. Two team members have lost their lives in the surf, Capt. Rob McLaughlin and Lt. Jim Davis. Visitors to the beach now worry even more about its safety.

"Sure they might not save a guy every day or every couple of months," said Dave Jones. "But the one they do save or a group of them if they're out here is well worth it."

But should new money be found, there's a chance that the team could be put back into operation.

The police and firefighters on the team keep their jobs, just no more going into the water -- they'll have to wait for the Coast Guard.

There are suggestions that the county and state should help pay since the beach is a regional attraction.