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20-year-old missing, presumed drowned at Green River Gorge

A 20-year-old man is presumed drowned after they went missing at Green River Gorge Saturday afternoon, the King County Sheriff’s Office said.

ENUMCLAW, Wash. — First responders have called off search and rescue operations for a 20-year-old swimmer who was swept away by the current at Green River Gorge Saturday afternoon.

Search and rescue units were called to the Green River Gorge Resort area near Black Diamond around 1:30 p.m. Saturday for a water rescue.

The King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) said two 20-year-old men were swimming together when one of the men was swept away. It’s unknown if the men were wearing life jackets or any safety gear.

At least seven agencies responded to the scene, according to a tweet from Puget Sound Fire.

Firefighters from Valley Regional Fire Authority used kayaks to search the Green River for the missing man. The King County Sheriff's Air Support Unit also responded to help search the area.

After searching the area for several hours, a KCSO spokesperson said the missing man was presumed drowned. Puget Sound Fire tweeted around 6 p.m. that search and rescue operations had been called off.

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The National Weather Service issued a Heat Advisory for most of western Washington this weekend as the area experiences its first stretch of hot weather this year. While much of the area saw temperatures in the 80s Saturday, the temperature of rivers, lakes and beaches are still dangerously cold.

Cold water shock occurs when the body is suddenly immersed in cold water and can become deadly in about a minute. A person will start to involuntarily gasp or hyperventilate, which may lead to cardiac arrest.

Sudden gasps of air and rapid breathing from cold water shock can create a greater risk of drowning for even the most confident swimmers. The National Weather Service said cold water shock can impair decision-making and also restrict movement in your arms and legs.

Experts consider cold water to be anything less than 70 degrees.

Personal flotation devices, such as a life jacket, significantly increase your chances of surviving after falling into the water. The Red Cross suggests people should never swim alone and recommends designating someone to watch the water if you are swimming with a group of people.

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