First responders rescue man on raging Skykomish River


An "incredible save" took place Tuesday night on the raging Skykomish River in Monroe, according to Snohomish Regional Fire and Rescue.

A man in a small aluminum boat with no oars was on the river in the dark, amid heavy currents and debris, with only a headlamp to guide him.

With a rope thrown from the overpass of Highway 522, more than 20 people from Snohomish Regional Fire and Rescue, Snohomish County Fire District and the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office helped rescue the man some 4 miles from where he was first spotted, Snohomish Regional Fire and Rescue said online.

The man was in the river for over an hour.

Here's how the rescue unfolded, according to rescue crews' account posted on social media:

Shortly after 6:30 p.m., Snohomish County 911 dispatched Snohomish Regional Fire and Rescue for a report of a man in a small boat traveling down the gushing Skykomish River in Monroe.

Rescuers do not know how the man ended up in the boat or where he entered the river, but he was able to call 911 and stay on the line with dispatchers to help relay information about where he was.

Rescue crews began scouting areas along the river where they could get to the boat, but because of the darkness, river conditions and limited access, crews were unable to launch a boat.

Instead, at the Highway 522 overpass downstream, rescuers hoped they could get the man to grab a rope. Washington State Patrol closed the highway to allow time for firefighters to work.

Units from the Snohomish County Fire District also set up downstream, launching a drone in the pouring rain to get a visual of the man in the boat.

Once the drone spotted the man, rescuers positioned themselves at the base of the highway overpass to throw the rope.

The man passed under the highway, and a Snohomish Regional Fire and Rescue firefighter tossed the line, which landed in his boat.

The man grabbed the rope, and the boat turned 180 degrees as the strong river currents tugged and pulled. The power of the river ripped the boat out from under the man, tossing him into the river filled with large tree debris and heavy currents.

The man began to swim to the shore, and held on to a stable tree in the river.

Crews cut through thick blackberry bushes and pulled the man to safety. With no shoes, he walked to a medic unit close by before being taken to a hospital.

Officials warn that flooding rivers are dangerous to enter, and that people should never get into a boat or kayak when a river is running quickly.