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Foreign travelers help rescue man from Skykomish River

The group was staying at a cabin on a private road when the spotted the man in the water.

INDEX, Wash. — A man was rescued from the Skykomish River on Monday after a group spotted him just feet away from Canyon Falls and alerted authorities.

Cousins Zac and Samara Chan are on a three-week trip to the United States from the United Kingdom. They were staying at a cabin along a private road on the Skykomish River when they spotted a man in distress while they were driving over a bridge near Canyon Falls.

"He was on this rock clinging for his life," Zac Chan said. "He was about two meters away from Canyon Falls, which is this waterfall that goes through this sort of rocky canyon. Basically looked unsurvivable."

The Chans and the rest of their group got as close to the man as they could to assess the situation and assured him they had called 911 for help.

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"We weren't going to be able to save him," said their friend, Josh Kristoffersen. "We didn't have rope. We didn't have any training, and I wasn't going to jump in and just be another victim."

Kristoffersen, who is a Washington native, said a first responder showed up with a rope in roughly eight minutes. However, it took 30 minutes for the full rescue team to arrive.

"They threw him the loop. He got the loop around himself with one hand, and I think they just told him to let go because he just let go, and they pulled him up. Half a second after he let go, he was already on the rock. It was a very swift action," recalled Kristoffersen.

"It was actually relieving seeing them do the whole operation because it looked like they knew what to do," said Samara Chan.

Last summer, at least three people died along the Skykomish River.

Snohomish Fire and Rescue is well-prepared for water rescues, but hope it's a skill they don't have to use. Due to a wet spring, the river is running high and fast this summer.

The two travelers are now witnesses to the dangers of the Skykomish River, and the group hopes this rescue serves as a reminder to stay out of the water. 

"You don't always respect the fact that if waters at your waist, it can pin you down. He couldn't make any headway upstream, and if he had taken even one step downstream, he would have been over the falls," said Kristoffersen.

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