Kennewick man rescued after falling into Ohanapecosh River

Friday, May 24, 2013 at 5:47 pm
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The victim is pulled back over to safety as the diver, left, looks on. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 10

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 24-year-old camper northeast of Packwood was rescued after he slipped into a glacial river while on a morning walk.

The Kennewick man was staying with friends and family in an unimproved area about a quarter mile south of Mount Rainier National Park off state Route 123, according to authorities.

He got too close to the edge of the Ohanapecosh River and slid about 25 feet into the swift water, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said. Packwood Fire Chief Lonnie Goble said the current swept him to the opposite bank, where he yelled for help.

His companions drove to Packwood to make a 911 call, which came about 7 a.m., responders said.

Responders set up a pulley system, with help from the man.

A sheriff’s deputy who is trained in swift water rescue entered the 40 degree water and was pulled to the other side, where he put a harness on the victim who was pulled back to awaiting rescue teams, according to the sheriff’s office.

The river is about 25 to 30 feet across at that point. The man was definitely hypothermic, but otherwise okay, Goble said.

He was checked by EMTs and transported to the Packwood Fire Department where he was able to get a hot bath, according to Goble.

Responding with sheriff’s office, the fire department and swift water specialists was Packwood Search and Rescue. They were at the scene about two and half hours.

While some were setting up the rope system, others tossed the man bags of warm, dry clothing, hot liquids to drink and shoes, according to Goble.

The fire chief said the area, known as the Cedar Brook camping area, has seen two drownings in the last decade and four to five water rescues.

“The rocks, they’re very slick,” he said. “They’re always wet.”

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Starting to set up for rescue at Ohanapecosh River. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 10

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Boat that couldn’t be used because of the rapids. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 10

 

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