Local Tsunami Survivor Tells His Incredible Story

By  | 

A few weeks ago, we brought you the story of a former Carson City man who rode out the killer Pacific tsunami in his sailboat off the coast of Thailand.
Dave Gutzman arrived for a visit at his parent's home in Carson City last night and this morning he talked about what he saw and experienced.
He says he was lucky, but also well-prepared.
Dave Gutzman is home for the first time in 2 years. His parents' home in snow-clad Carson City, literally and figurately a world away from the one he just left. Gutzman has been on a round-the-world trip by sailboat.
The morning of December 26th found him and his crewmate, a Danish woman he met in Australia, anchored off Phi Phi Island in Thailand. Dave says the water in the bay dropped suddenly....then came rushing back in.
Dave's extra heavy anchor and chain held. Others weren't as lucky. A couple in a kayak saw the wave approaching and yelled for help.
Gutzman said he couldn't help them, and never We knew what happened to them.
The destruction on Phi Phi island....the picturesque setting for the movie "The Beach" was considerable. One resort was simply washed away, buildings, staff and guests.
Concerned about another wave, Dave motored his boat out to deeper water, then returned to look for anyone who had been washed out to sea. They found no one. He, his boat and crewmate had survived one of the age's worst natural disasters.
Survival, he says, may have been a matter of a good anchor, well-set as a matter of routine. But sheer luck played a major role.
Dave says they felt both guilty and thankful their boat gave them the means to survive the aftermath. Reflecting back he also says they usually are not still on the boat that late in the morning. Any other day might have found them ashore when the wave struck.