NEAR GOLD BAR, Wash - In the last three days there have been at least three emergency responses in Western Washington rivers.
The most recent call came in around 1:00 p.m. Tuesday in an area known as Boulder Drop near Gold Bar. A homeowner along the river noticed that the two rafts had flipped and called 911. Dive and rescue units with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office were quickly dispatched to the scene. It was a close call for the 10 rafters who ended up in the chilly Skykomish River.
For the most part, all of the rafters - all of them experienced, many actually river guides - were able to get themselves out of the water and onto the shore without any need for rescue or medical treatment. By 3:30 p.m., they managed to get back onto their rafts and float safely down the river.
“It was like butter cream at the top - it was nice and easy, smooth. Then we got to the bottom wave and both boats just got pummeled by a ledge wave,” recalled Sean “Spare Rib” Horst, rafter. “It was amazing how quickly there were helicopters and rescue teams and people that I know from the fire department in Index just popping out of the trees.”
“When you go rafting, especially on the Skykomish, it’s challenging white water. Boulder Drop is a classified rapid. There’s a chance you’ll end up upside down or people get washed out. You just need to be ready to go for a swim,” said Tyler Clabaugh, rafter.
Days ago in King County there were two calls for river rescues.
On Sunday afternoon a 45-year-old woman fell into the water while kayaking on the Green River. The woman’s friends were able to pull her from the water and started CPR until medics arrived. The woman was transported to a hospital in Auburn in critical condition. She died hours later.
Sheriff’s deputies said the woman was wearing a lifejacket and was properly equipped. The woman’s name has not been released and the King County Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy for cause of death.
Also on Sunday a man was kayaking near Ravensdale when he ended up in the water. Rescue units rushed to help, but the man was able to get himself out.
Don Martin with River Recreation Incorporated said recent heavy rain has made the rivers more full and fast. He trains people to be prepared on the water, and said everyone should receive a lesson from a professional before going out.
“It only takes a couple feet of water at a good speed to be able to knock you off your feet and put you in a situation you were not ready for 15 seconds before,” said Martin. “If you think you know what you are doing and you haven’t taken a class, you could end up in some trouble quickly.”
Martin recommends that before going on the water bring necessary gear like life jackets and helmets.